Gig review: Feeder at O2 Academy Leeds

Mid-Noughties guitar bands haven't had it easy over the last decade, so all power to Feeder for their continued relevance.

Grant Nicholas of Feeder on stage at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

If never afforded the critical respect of Manic Street Preachers or blessed with the commercial heft of Stereophonics, the Newport rockers have at least endured alongside their peers to remain one of Welsh music’s greater exports of the past 20 years, still big enough to pack out venues in the region of Leeds’s O2 Academy across the county.

Shaping this current jaunt around a greatest hits package is a shrewd move from duo Grant Nicholas and Taka Hirose; the pair use it as a platform for an all-encompassing jump into the archives.

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From the angsty burn of debut Stereo World through moody new cut Figure You Out, via the towering alt-anthemics of Feeling a Moment, they leave no stone unturned across a two-hour-plus set of pop-metal gems that highlights why they were such an infectious blast in the first place.

Taka Hirose of Feeder on stage at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Age has worn Nicholas’s holler down – both musicians are over fifty now – but his enthusiasm remains undimmed, sporting shaggy-dog locks and a boyish grin as he shreds through a thrilling Pushing the Senses. There’s a weathered introspection to his croon on grungy-power-ballad High that adds melancholic poignancy; when he steps away from the microphone to let the crowd carry the refrain, he looks to be caught in genuine awe.

Hirose, if anything, seems younger; decked out in cyberpunk apparel with a jet-black mohawk, he moonwalks around during Lost & Found whilst popping his bass strings to raucous cheers.

It’s the disparate touches that stop this show tumbling down the nostalgia rabbit-hole; Nicholas, a man as enamoured with The Beatles as he is with Rage Against the Machine, layers cosmic guitar tones into the frantic Insomnia and the maudlin magnificence of Just the Way I’m Feeling, to bring out the neurotic darkness embedded in his music’s anthemic psyche.

It makes for a full-throttle catharsis; one every bit as adrenalizing as the giddy power-pop bounce of Borders and Buck Rogers that follows, spawning an outbreak of vigorous crowd-surfing.

Taka Hirose of Feeder on stage at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

By the time they unleash the bludgeoning exuberance of Just a Day at the end of a curfew-busting encore, the frontman’s smile has even spread as far as the stoic Hirose and his aviator shades.

Half-a-century on the clock has given them some revisionist musical perspective; slowing down, thankfully, seems far from the agenda.