Feeder + support R51 | Review
Limelight, Belfast • Monday 17 October ’16
By Gerard Walton • Photography: Tremaine Gregg
Feeder made a welcome and memorable return to Belfast this week with a career-spanning set in support of their new top ten ‘All Bright Electric’ album. Their last visit was in 2011 at the same location, albeit what used to be Spring and Airbrake. Grant remarked mid-set about how much better the place looked, and that could apply equally to them – ‘All Bright Electric’ ranking among their best work.
To kick the night off was R51, a band whose excitement at such a big support slot was palpable. Their sound is the sort of passionate emo-tinged rock with a dreamy edge that can take them to high places. In recent weeks they have headlined a Culture Night gig at the Oh Yeah Centre, in addition to helping BBC Radio Ulster’s Across the Line celebrate its 30th birthday. They took to the stage and immediately kicked things off with the wonderful ‘A Perfect Life’ from new EP No Chill.
New tracks like ‘Elephant’ and ‘Morocco’ have energy and harmonies to burn, and both were also fine tasters of ‘No Chill.’ There were also moments of pure aggression, such as on ‘I Hate That Too,’ which at times verged on speed-metal, but never strayed from the band’s melodic strength. R51 have to go down as one of Belfast’s biggest hopes, and the Limelight was bludgeoned over the face with the reasons why. A must hear for anyone who likes Biffy Clyro, Paramore or Wolf Alice.
A loving ovation for the R51 gave way to a short break, before David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ came on at attention-grabbing volume over the club’s sound system, as a prelude of sorts to Feeder’s set. A backdrop of trees from a bird’s eye view appeared on the stage projector, and the Welsh heroes strolled on to perform a twinkling rendition of the new album’s closer ‘Another Day On Earth.’ Softly sung words of “serenity and calm” did not last long. You just knew what was coming – sure enough, ‘Universe Of Life’ got us motoring, and from here on in, the hits rolled on.
‘Renegades’ and ‘Borders’ are the only songs that remain in the Feeder setlist released post-singles collection that predate the new album, which perhaps betrays the fact that commercial fortunes have been on the wane since the glory days. Nonetheless, the new album All Bright Electric is brimming with creativity and an emotional depth that somehow harks back to debut ‘Polythene’ while at the same time remaining modern and a logical new step for the band.
‘Eskimo’ and ‘Geezer’ are two examples of these steps forward while regaining Feeder’s edgy roots. Neither have the peppy bounce of the band’s chart highs, but they do not seem one bit bothered. Both were stretched out long past their CD running times, and the band’s moody strut at times like this was almost hypnotic.
Not everything new hit the mark. ‘Paperweight’ is a little one-note, and that paired with ‘Tender’ ensured a slight lull mid-set. Fortunately that had been preceded by ‘High’, a woozy ode to narcotics that stands firm 20 years on, and one that the band seem to enjoy playing still – particularly, as Grant Nicholas fondly recalled, it kept them on the radio in the States for 12 months.
There are always those who are going to judge a band’s concert by the hits, and these certainly were not overlooked. ‘Feeling A Moment’ and ‘Just The Way I’m Feeling’ got the lighters (well, smartphones) in the air and got some of the most rapturous receptions of the night. But then there are the pogo-classics of ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Buck Rogers.’ ‘Insomnia’ got some of the most frenetic moshing of the night, and it will long remain a favourite, no doubt about it. ‘Buck Rogers’ really broke the band into the UK mainstream in 2001, and Grant played around with it a bit here, threatening initially to turn it into a slow dream-pop rendition. I suppose that is one way to keep a nonsensical millstone of a song fresh for yourself, but when it properly kicked in they, and the crowd, still seemed thrilled to be singing it.
‘Just A Day’ is the one that got the crowd moving most at the end of the encore, and it was being demanded from the instant Feeder left the stage the first time – the football chant of its melody reverberating around the Limelight. If they weren’t already going to play it, they certainly were now. They teased it out a bit longer, with ‘Infared Ultraviolet’ repeating the slowburn trick of the set’s opening salvo, and then ‘Seven Days In The Sun’ again revisiting the band’s chart-bothering hit days.
Then that final wallop of ‘Just A Day’ sent the Limelight off happy, with the gentle ‘Oh Mary’ from the new album soundtracking people’s departure from the venue – a nice comedown from an exhilarating evening. Feeder may have plenty of miles on the clock, but they’re still cruising along like that brand new car.