WORDS BY JANET HARDING / IMAGES WARREN MILLAR
‘Another epic one tonight…the gods of British grunge/alt rock…it’s Feeder…I’m strapping myself in, this musical road is gonna be bumpy…Yes!’
In glorious sunshine we walk through the diverse Manchester University quarter. There’s a real vibrancy in the air…driven by the good weather and the promise of music from the many great venues and pubs in this quarter. It’s busy and bustling. A pretty large queue has already formed as we arrive at our destination, the 02 Academy, the biggest of the 4 Academy venues housed in Manchester, and a brilliant place to see a band. Of course tonight’s is a giant of a headline, people are eager to see Feeder, it can be felt in the air. Manchester gigs always go off, always a brilliant atmosphere and always lively. I’m so looking forward to tonight’s ‘grunge fest’!
It’s great inside the Academy Manchester, very modern. At 3,200 capacity it’s still relatively small as gig venues go, but you really do get that crowd experience. Several easily accessible bars are located on 3 sides of the performance area with a seating area away from the main area. The performance area itself is all standing but there is a balcony with bar and seating which has disabled access. Staff and Security were brilliant and very helpful.
Dea Matrona – Support
Orlaith Forsythe – lead vocal/guitar/bass
Mollie McGinn – lead vocal/guitar/bass
Connor Driscoll – drums
Providing stellar support tonight we have Dea Matrona, a 3 piece, blues/rock band from Belfast. In an explosion of sunshine and smiles they begin their set, and what a set!…very energetic and very bubbly from the start…a real Americana rock feel, classic rock, that retro 80s sound. This band are very polished, well rehearsed, top of their game – the vocals are out of this world…we’d heard sound check through the walls outside as we were waiting to enter…and had remarked about how great they sounded, but seeing the actual performance is a whole other level. Our 2 front women’s (Orlaith’s and Mollie’s) vocals complement each other superbly and the pair of them don’t stop smiling throughout the entire set. Real guitar based rock, upbeat, melodic, danceable…we love it. These guys are cool…we love them…in leather and leopard print and bright red lipstick they have us completely under their spell. Covering the stage, posing for photographers, dancing, jumping, Mollie is often lying on the floor, singing and playing guitar whilst kicking one leg in the air, Orlaith is on her knees or pogoing, while Connor hammers the beats from his drum kit…it’s hard and fast. I get 70s rock/punk vibes –think Suzy Quattro.
A multitude of styles, genres and inspirations can be heard in this sound, Americana being the main theme; country, blues, all woven together with punk and rock. Such a cheerful, fun loving and high vibrational sound with a performance to match. Very likeable, interaction is genuine. Orlaith’s vocal is full, rich, smooth and loud, although it does have a grate when needed. Mollie’s is sweet, sultry with a drawl. They work exquisitely together. Fascinating to watch, really catchy tunes, drumming like rolling southern thunder…breaking into a musical rain storm of sweet harmonies, kickass, rocking bass lines and ‘want more’ blues/country guitar riffs…with that added punk rock feel on top. Simply put, these guys rock, they own this stage! Lots of shaking hair (I won’t even mention how amazing both girls’ hair is) which is always a sign of a great rock band!
For honky tonk vibes, a Dire Straits feel with that essence of country, with blues rock and kick ass rock at its heart, I give you Dea Matrona. They honestly have it all: great stage presence, cool, showmanship, exceptional musical craftsmanship and banging, southern style rock…Belfast’s finest. Thank you Dea Matrona, we truly loved you!
Just Wanna Rock
Stamp on It
So Damn Dangerous
It’s only Music
Make you my Star
Feeder – Headline
Grant Nicholas – lead vocalist
Taka Hirose – bass guitar
The feels are up, everyone’s hyped. You can feel the excitement. This crowd is like a kettle, simmering on the edge, ready to reach boiling point at any minute. It’s a knife edge tension. In total darkness chants of ‘Feeder, Feeder, Feeder‘ are deafening. As the band arrives on stage we reach our boiling point and we boil over. As the music begins it erupts.
Starting with ‘Healing’ the sounds come crashing – pure, unadulterated, guitar driven, screaming bliss. The sound is concise, crisp, clear with a hard edge, but with that brilliant, grunge, pounding bass line, that muddiness we feel in our chests. This sound is pulsating, it’s living, breathing… explosive beats, soaring guitar lines. It’s powerful, loud, ‘stand up and take notice’ stuff. It’s angsty, it’s sorrowful, angry, but the keys give that glistening, shimmering finish. Grant (Nicholas)’s vocals are clear, steady, smooth, breezy and light, then raspy, grating and sorrowful. It conveys every emotion.
The backdrop on stage is a huge image of the artwork used on the latest album ‘Torpedo’. We also have an epic amount of lighting, including running along the bottom of the drum platform, strobe effects, dry ice and laser- like effects on and off throughout tonight’s set. Very effective and certainly builds on the atmosphere and ups the feels.
This latest tour is to coincide with the latest album release. ‘Torpedo’ is the 11th album from the legendary Feeder whose illustrious career spans 3 decades and includes the sales of over 2 million records. Members of the UK grunge scene back in the mid 90s and forming in Newport in 1994, the name ‘Feeder’ comes from a goldfish Grant (Nicholas) used to have. Known worldwide for anthemic, real guitar driven, grunge rock, Feeder have stood the test of time and remained current for 30 years.
It’s a full set, and as a crowd, we lap it up, song after song. It’s gone wild – unbridled musical passion at its best. We’ve had numerous crowd surfers, we’ve had moshpit effect from the off, which has now reached fever pitch and now has a force entirely of its own, its tentacles reaching out temptingly to include anyone nearby in this musical, moshing madness, whilst beer rains down from every direction.
The nostalgia feels are flowing, it’s announced that the set list is to be abandoned and the band are going to play it by ear as the response has been so phenomenal. They want to give us some 90s hits they weren’t going to, and haven’t played in 25 years…they’re gauging the crowd reaction and deciding as they go! It works amazingly well and is something very rarely done. It’s another example of the brilliant energies at work during live band performance. It’s a true exchange…as crowd members we all know we feed off the band and the music, sound and energy given. Bands tell me all the time that they too feed from the crowd energy. It’s an infectious, contagious energy. It’s high vibrational and it’s like nothing else, the power and force of musical sound and the appreciation and celebration of this. It’s a scorching performance, this inferno of a band with a sound that’s resonating on every level. Between songs the chants of ‘Feeder, Feeder’ don’t let up. The love for Manchester is clearly displayed by Feeder and especially so from our front man, Grant, and that love is reciprocated in multitudes. I love a band who just play, and play they do, to the extreme. It’s a nonstop, crashing tidal wave of sound and feels, soaking us with creativity.
It’s mentioned how much as a band, they’ve missed playing live and touring after a bad few years. Feeder more than ‘did their bit’ remaking the video from the 2001 hit ‘Just for a day’ using videos sent in from fans during lockdown. All proceeds raised went to fund PPE equipment for NHS staff.
The hits are flowing until we reach the end of the set. After a few minutes Feeder are back out on stage to a frenzied crowd for their encore, which can only be described as a musical meteorite hitting – with ‘Buck Rogers’. It’s the one we’ve all been waiting for…it goes off, and then some… it’s on fire. Dancing, bouncing, hugging each other, the crowd go insane! It’s so special to be part of. It’s been one hell of a night – grunge, alt rock at it’s very best – it’s brought back feels of eras long gone, mind blowing; a band of epic – no, biblical – sounds! Legends, bringers of entertainment, emotional songs with real feeling, but upbeat and ‘feel good’ alongside.
Not only are Feeder legendary, but their fans are wonderful, inclusive, friendly and really know how to party and celebrate their band! I got to hang out with some great people I met by the barrier, and it’s testament to Feeder what a mixed age group they appeal to, right down to kids of 11. It’s so good to see. So it’s been one legendary, banging, original, grungetastic and wonderful night of nonstop nostalgia as well as new material and the most amazing sound you can imagine. A band I’ll never forget seeing, you properly blew my mind tonight, Feeder…Tonight has been like no other gig I’ve experienced before. A huge shout out to my brilliant gig buddies who really made tonight extra special. Thanks for hanging out, Aiden Brierly, Alex Hope, Noah Mannion…keep enjoying Feeder and keep enjoying live music!
And thank you to Feeder, you genuinely are the grunge/alt rock gods.
1/ The Healing
3/ Born to Love you
4/ Feeling a moment
7/ Desperate Hour
8/ Just the Way I’m Feeling
9/ Fear of Flying
11/ When it all breaks down
12/ Wall of Silence/MPD
14/ Godzilla/World Asleep/Insomnia
16/ Buck Rogers/Just a Day
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