• Alex Swift

LOUDER REVIEWS: Feeder at Tredegar Park, Newport | 6th August 2021

My last gig before the world went into lockdown for over a year was the Mysterines in February of 2020. Excitement and nervousness for this one is astronomical – excitement about the familiar sensations of dancing with strangers, singing until your voice gives out and the rush of serotonin as the stage lights dim and the band come on. And nervousness about that all seeming very strange in a world where we’ve become used to disassociating from any kind of social interaction at all.

Indeed, Feeder’s music is perfect for that experience. For years, they’ve been writing hugely anthemic and triumphant rock that begs to be sung along to in a crowd of people, not least one that has reason to be joyous. The event itself has a uniquely festival-esque atmosphere, being outdoors. There’s an initially timid atmosphere among the concertgoers who don’t want to be anywhere near each other, yet this soon melts away as everyone gradually remembers how much they have missed the company of strangers.

Tom Auton and the Bottle Breakers want the audience to know that live music is back, as evidenced by the fact that they keep reminding us in between cuts of blues-laden yet commanding hard rock. The crowd is still very small and scattered at this point, yet after the opening act finish their set there’s a palpable sense that their visceral riffs and memorable choruses have left an impression on those that are here, getting the afternoon off to a great start.

Making a colourful and vibrant impression are Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. These are my favourite support act owing to their exuberant Bowie-enthused style of glam-rock with a modern flair. By the end of the first song I’ve had enough of casually observing the bands from halfway up the field, and doing what gigs are truly about – making a fool of yourself by showing off how awkwardly you can dance.

I’m not alone in that either. As these musicians tear through immediately outstanding anthems with such titles as ‘Double Denim Hop’ and ‘John Lennon is My Jesus Christ’ – the latter of which is accompanied by our exuberant frontman having the time of his life strutting around the stage in bright blue robes like someone who has walked through a portal in the 70s to the modern day – the audience begin to show noticeably more vigour and heartiness. While it’s easy to see how someone who isn’t as into retro-infused glamour and theatricality as I am wouldn’t be into this, these are, to date, one of the only support acts I’ve seen where I’ve immediately bought a ticket for a headline show of theirs, immediately after seeing them. Let that speak for itself.

Next up is a name that everybody is familiar with. Craig Charles, famed for Robot Wars and Red Dwarf, delivers a brilliant DJ set of funk and soul classics and well as cuts of northern soul and jazz that despite being lesser known are so well integrated into the set that the audience – now a revelling crowd of thousands, united through a mutual love of music – finds an excuse to dance anyway. Part of the magic of this event, as evidenced by the different clothing of the concertgoers is that for an evening fans of different styles of music were brought together, and this is evidenced by this set which samples everything from pop to metal to avant-garde. When the pioneering radio presenter’s hour is up, there’s a resounding sense throughout the event that we’ve just witnessed a legend doing his work. If anyone wasn’t enthused for the rest of the night already, they certainly are now!

The Magic Gang sound impeccable in their performance. Their particular style of mellow yet still optimistic and life-affirming indie compliments their status as the main support act while proving just relaxed and tranquil enough to suit the early evening vibes. Picture the scene – the sun casts its last rays on a park that’s full of people weary from the day so far yet no less excited for the main act, and what is more, the music compliments that. While I wouldn’t have previously considered these to be an obvious choice to support Feeder, the sense of precision and emotionality in their music made them a very fine choice indeed.

“This is our first gig in two years. We’re a bit rusty, but who gives a fuck, right?” Grant Nicholas of Feeder proclaims to cheers. He’s underselling themselves – despite being out of practice and having a broken pedal, the band sound absolutely brilliant. Their performance is nothing short of absolutely exhilarating in the way the roar of the guitars combine with grandiosity of the melodies. Opening with ‘Buck Rogers’ the concert atmosphere that so many have missed so much is immediately felt in all its splendour and magnificence, the chorus of “I think we’re gonna make it, I think we’re gonna save it” ringing out with more tenderness than ever.

Throughout their set the band emote with poignant ballads in the vain of ‘Comfort in Sound’, while also inspiring with jubilant hits like ‘Seven Days In the Sun’. They play a decent amount of new material from their most recent album ‘Tallulah’, yet these are no less welcome than the familiar fan favourites. In a sentimental moment our frontman attributes ‘High’ to "an absent friend" and "to anyone that’s lost someone during this pandemic." It’s a moment which encapsulates everything this night represents – for me at least this was an opportunity to celebrate getting through what was an incredibly difficult year for me as I’m sure it was for so many there.

More than that though, it was an opportunity to reflect. I went to this gig with family members who I had to go long periods without seeing last year. Being at this event, being in a crowd and seeing friends that I haven’t seen in a very long time made the gig a significant yet very appreciated reminder that we should savour these moments. As the night draws to a close we’re reminded by Nicholas that “you can do anything you want to do if you set your mind to it, so if there’s something you want to do go with it."

Just as energetically as the set started, ‘Just a Day’ ends the show with a lively and forceful show of dynamism from both the crowd and the band, with both seeming to feed (no pun intended) off each other’s energy. The songs message of living in the moment and enjoying being alive is also especially resonant and as the band bid the audience to stay safe and “get your jabs” there’s a feeling of determination and confidence in the air. A sense that we lived through so much to get to this moment and there will be other moments in the future worth striving through adversity to get to as well. To quote the song which coined the collective term for Feeder fans; ‘We are the renegades’.

Feeder's latest album 'Tallulah' is out now - stream the record on Spotify here:

Feeder will be supporting James at Kenwood, Hampstead Heath on the 20th of August 2021 - any remaining tickets are available here:


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