Review | Feeder at Portsmouth Guildhall: "Fizzes like a tube of Refreshers dropped into a bottle of Coke"

​When Feeder first appeared on the scene nearly 30 years ago now, they were very much a “Kerrang!” band – a dyed-in-the-wool hard-rock/grunge act.
Feeder at Portsmouth GuildhallFeeder at Portsmouth Guildhall
Feeder at Portsmouth Guildhall

​Over the years they’ve never entirely lost that harder edge, but it was their run of more melodic, anthemic singles in the early noughties that brought them to mainstream attention (check out their brilliant 2006 Singles compilation – it’s wall-to-wall hits).

In recent years though, the pendulum has swung back again, and the band fully re-embraced their heavy side on last album Torpedo, and reportedly have again on forthcoming album Black/Red.

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Feeder, commendably, refuse to just “play the hits” when they go out live. If this is a tour to promote the new album, then they will highlight that new album, dammit. However, on this occasion, that new album – a double, no less – isn’t actually out for another month.

With a load of new songs to show off, plus all of those hits at their disposal, trying to please everyone would be nigh-on impossible.

But they’re straight out of the traps with ELF – one of those new numbers, and it’s a bracing blast. They follow it up immediately with Kyoto from 2019’s Tallulah, which features some industrial-strength riffing.

A couple of those big anthems – Feeling a Moment, Just The Way I’m Feeling – get dripped in, but tonight it’s mostly about the heavier end of their catalogue.

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At one point they start playing 2016 single Universe of Life before it stops abruptly like a sideways skid into a wall, frontman Grant Nicholas clearly not happy with something. Instead of resuming the song, they delve right back to their debut, Polythene, for Tangerine – making a welcome return to the set for those old-school fans.

Another new number Hey You! is introduced as their homage to the ’80s, and its ebola-catchy “Woah, yeah!” refrain is picked up by the audience with gusto – so much so that they carry on with it long after the song has finished, much to Nicholas’ amusement.

Playing With Fire, a recent single, features a ferocious coda which hits much harder than its recorded counterpart.

The initial reception to the unfamiliar new material is naturally muted compared to the old favourites, but the effusive reaction on each one’s finish bodes well for the album.

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High, also from Polythene, provides another mass singalong, and gives Nicholas the chance to come down to the barrier to get up close with his fans.

There’s a three-song encore – including yet another new number, bassist Taka Hirose’s favourite apparently, the bagpipe-introduced (sadly only on tape) Soldiers of Love.

When it finishes, the lights drop and the band stand in silence before Nicholas plays the unmistakable intro to arguably their biggest hit, Buck Rogers. Yes, the lyrics are nonsense, but its pop-punk fizzes like a tube of Refreshers dropped into a bottle of Coke, and provokes the first proper mosh of the night, which continues into their final number Just a Day.

At the song’s climax, Nicholas and drummer Geoff Holroyde refuse to let it end – hitting one crashing crescendo after another, as if they’re reluctant to let it really be over.

Judging from what we’ve heard tonight, Black/Red’s going to be one heck of a ride.