TVD Live Shots: Feeder at the Roundhouse, 11/23

There’s something incredibly special about a band like Feeder. Not too many bands can continue to endure such a rollercoaster ride for nearly three decades—countless peaks and valleys of critical acclaim, tragic loss, astounding highs, and of course, periods of confusion and lost direction. These guys have seen it all, and yet they’re still playing gigs and making arguably the best music of their career.

I remember these guys from the ’90s Britpop invasion in the States, but lost track of them until stumbling upon one of my all-time favorite records, 2008’s Silent Cry. For me, there’s always been a mystique around the band and their atmospheric yet aggressive sound. Maybe it’s because I lived in the States during their peak and never got a chance to see the live show until moving to London three years ago. Touring in support of their new record Tallulah, this would be my second Feeder show in London, and they sounded bigger, bolder—and ultimately better.

Grant Nicholas and Taka Hirose make up the core of the band these days, with Nicholas being the prominent songwriter. The album is named for Nicholas’ wife’s best friend’s daughter (yeah, I had to read that a few times back as well) who was in attendance at the jam-packed Roundhouse theatre in North London.

The one thing that Feeder always gets right is the order of the first three or four songs on each record. “Youth,” “Blue Sky Blue,” and “Daily Habit” open up Tallulah, and for a minute it looked to be the opening of the set that evening. Instead, they did open with “Youth” and immediately dipped to the back catalogue. I think this was a bit of a miss, as they could have easily played the new record in its entirety—it’s that good. Kerrang! described it as an album “busy with songs that fizz with life and the kind of choruses that exist in a glorious, endless summer,” declaring it to be “a triumph,” and I wholeheartedly agree.

The setlist pulled heavily from the new record and was peppered with a couple of rarities alongside set staples and hits, although their 2008 record Silent Cry was skipped over entirely. I thought, did I miss something? Even though this wasn’t deemed a commercial success, Nichols is quoted in interviews saying that he was particularly proud of this one, yet he couldn’t get one song into the set? This one was surprisingly absent from the 2016 gig that I saw as well. Either way, I used to put “Itsumo” on a custom mix CD when I first met my wife, and it was sort of our anthem before getting married. I brought her to see the gig hoping that this time around, it would have been included. That album and song continue to have a special place in my Spotify list, and I’m likely not the only one missing the record in the live setting.

At the end of the day (or night), the show was great, and the new material is epic performed live. It lifts the studio album to new heights. “Eskimo” and “Universe of Life” were brilliant as well and underscores the fact that these guys continue to make the best music of their career. I’ll certainly be at the next gig, and hopefully they’ll bring the sleeper that is Silent Cry back into the mix.

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