Review of Feeder (As The Renegades) live at Birmingham Academy 3 on Thursday January 28th.
The 'sold out' signs and heavy security presence on the door suggests that despite tonight's show being advertised as a set by 'new' band The Renegades, the secret's out that it is actually Feeder embarking on their most low-key tour in over a decade. Having established themselves as one of the country's most consistent rock outfits, not to mention enjoying a fair degree of success over the course of the past ten years with their radio-friendly anthems, its perhaps something of a turnaround to not only see the band in this most intimate of settings, but also to hear them playing the kind of music that helped gain them recognition amidst a sea of Britpop also-rans in the first place.
Many of those converted by Feeder's more esoteric sound post-2001's 'Echo Park' will perhaps by unaware of the band's past history, but delve into the archives and certainly in the case of 1997's 'Polythene' you'll find one of the most underrated albums of the previous decade. Its perhaps ironic in a way that the band were initially cited for their obvious leanings towards American alt-rock such as Smashing Pumpkins or Sonic Youth when one considers the more stadium like presence the band hold today, yet the raw dynamics of this record and its predecessor 'Swim' undoubtedly set the scene for what was to follow, whilst ensuring their credibility remains in tact with those who've gone the whole distance with them, whether it be as the ungainly energetic three-piece so out of kilter with mid-nineties fashion it was impossible to ignore them or the more saccharine orchestral sounds of two of the band's biggest hits to date, 'Just The Way I'm Feeling' or 'Tumble And Fall'.
Currently putting the finishing touches to their as-yet untitled seventh studio album, tonight's show not only gives Grant Nicholas and co. a perfect opportunity to road test some of their new material but also gives recent addition to the line-up, drummer Karl Brazil, a chance to show his mettle in front of a live audience. Recent four-track EP 'Renegades' - hence the band's moniker for this short set of dates - hinted at a return to basics, and this is confirmed throughout the thirteen-song set, ten of which are new compositions. From the opening couplet of 'Barking Dogs' and 'Sentimental', both featured on the aforementioned EP through 'Left Foot Right' and its 'Swim' era make-up and 'White Lines', which finally springs into life after both Nicholas and bassist Taka Hirose fluff the start causing the song to be aborted first time round, there's a new found belief that the forthcoming record could actually be the natural successor to 'Polythene', despite the thirteen year gap and everything else that's happened in between.
'Down To The River' meanwhile is perhaps the only song of the new batch with any close affiliations to the more recognisable Feeder sound that's shifted thousands of units in recent years, its lighters-in-the-air anthemic quality sure to grace several late night festival slots this summer.
That the only old songs they do play this evening all stem from that era - early single 'Tangerine' making a rare appearance mid-set followed by 'Swim' mainstays 'Sweet 16' and 'Descend' during the encore, suggests the band have not only rediscovered their roots, but also re-ignited the spark that made them such a potent force in the first place. Furthermore, that nothing sounds out of place this evening despite the passing of time between Feeder past and present is conclusive proof that as with previous album 'Silent Cry', this next record may well turn out to be one of 2010's most pleasantly surprising collections.