Music, News, Review

Feeder @ Albert Hall review – Sing-along masters radiate warmth

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Photography: Shanna Cleaver

GIRLBAND! know their way around a tune. Aural cartographers orienteering their way through the contours of chorus and verse. Despite having a solitary single to their exclamation mark-laden name, the Nottingham trio have a swollen cache of ready-made anthems in their back pocket. Bashful in front of tonight’s sold-out room, singer/guitarist Georgie perhaps doesn’t realise how accomplished they are, but everyone loves an underdog and Feeder’s receptive crowd take them under their collective wing. Before GIRLBAND! book an open top bus for their triumphant Notts homecoming, though, they’ll have to negotiate opening for Taking Back Sunday at the Ritz next week.

With every thimble of floor space taken, it’s floating room-only for Feeder’s return to the Albert Hall for the first time since a two-night stint in 2019. Two of rock’s great survivors, Grant Nicholas and Taka Hirose’s musical partnership has borne consistent fruit for thirty years, and with the imminent release of their 12th album Black/Red – a double album, no less – they show no signs of putting themselves out to pasture. 

Feeder have never looked to reinvent the wheel. The only discernible difference between their latest material and their earlier output is familiarity. Each new album has a modular nature that means you could interchange, say, the fifth and eighth track on any LP and barely notice the difference. That doesn’t quite translate to the live setting, though; as solid as recent single ‘ELF’ is, it’ll eventually settle lower in the pecking order than its current curtain-raiser status.

Still, they’re as sprightly as ever well into their fifties. Hirose, with his aerodynamic quiff and sparkling rodeo shirt, can’t resist pogoing along to ‘Feeling a Moment’, and although Nicholas remains tethered to his mic, he radiates a warmth that rivals the Ready Brek man.

‘Fear of Flying’ boasts as many “woah-oh”s as the entire Bon Jovi back catalogue, sparking the shoulder dancers on the balcony to thrust their arms towards the firmament with each fresh chant. Those revolving shoulders become full-on gyrations by the time ‘Come Back Around’ airs, paving the way for a brief romp through their deluge of hits. ‘Insomnia’, ‘Buck Rogers’, and ‘High’ – the song that kicked opened more doors for Feeder than any other – all flash by, complete with ‘passionate’ backing vocals from a refreshed gentleman by the sound desk who won’t need a microphone when he sings karaoke.

‘Soldiers of Love’ and its infernal bagpipes – a medieval torture device masquerading as a musical instrument – won’t survive as an encore beyond this tour. However, the “do-do-do-doooo”s of ‘Just a Day’, the B-side that spawned the cheapest and most wholesome video of the MTV2 era, result in pandemonium, or as close as you’ll see to it from a couple of thousand middle-aged punters. 

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Ian Burke

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