Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Feeling @ The Sugarmill 13th February 2011

Review by Sian Eardley

The Feeling – so what do we know so far? They came around at the same time of the height of indie pop acts such as The Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand and Razorlight. They’re a London power pop/soft rock fivesome with Brit nominations to their belts, and we also know, that it’s been a while since their second album release of ‘Join With Us’ (2008), which followed their poptastic debut album ‘Twelve Stops and Home’, on Island Records. This may have topped I-tunes charts but only got a measly 4/10 from NME; the hot house of musical peers they were no doubt trying to impress and conquer.

So now they’re back, and using small venues i.e. The Sugarmill to bring in the guinea pigs and experiment with their music material ready for their third instalment. Well, being a guinea pig, here’s my analysis:

Looking environmentally, The ‘Mill is fit to burst, and more interestingly it’s host to a more mature audience tonight, I barely saw any flesh younger than my own 21 years about the place, which was actually very refreshing and means there’s hope yet. After a mind-numbingly dull wait of around 30-40 minutes wait for The Feeling’s appearance, and still tightly packed, I was relying heavily on the sound to produce a sensational spectacle, if possible. Truth be told though, I was fairly curious about the whole affair. The Feeling + Stoke Sugarmill couldn’t be more juxtaposed in my eyes, and I wanted to see if they could be more dazzling than the bassist’s Mrs – Sophie Ellis Bextor (are they only famous now for this?), or not basically. But with fans restoring to standing on sofas to squeeze in a peep of them, there was a lot of love and support for them in the room, but the wait was to no avail really, it was rather anti-climactic given the performance. (And please note, the stupidly long wait ended by cutting off The National, which was just plain, rude.)

To their credit, the band were welcomed with deafening cheers, and the opener ‘Set My World on Fire’ was rompingly loud, but the vocal was too mixed, it wasn’t raw or true to it’s cause, so at this point, I would prefer Bextor. There was a happy/poppy ambience, as if taking part in a Pentecostal communion, and I expected everyone to be holding hands at any moment, and, coincidentally, it sounded uncannily like Cliff Richard’s ‘Saviour’s Day’. More cheering, and for what!? Yes, it’s a new material road test and yes they’ve had chart success, but this was a weak start so far.

‘Fill My Little World’ brought them back in line; with a roary bass and bouncy beat it was as catchy as Alphabeat’s ‘Fascination’, and it was allowable for this number to bring everyone together. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a bit poncy, but THEY ARE good at what they have achieved. They definitely give off the festival vibe; feel-good tunes for the likes of ‘V’, and infectious guitar solos. Still, I felt like they were playing in an artificially green garden with big plastic flowers, (think The Big Breakfast), as everything was very airy-fairy.

Then came ‘Another Life’: AKA ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ on keyboard. Sometimes you just have to be aggressive to have depth and validity, but The Feeling seriously lack this. “I can tell you stories… I can tell you them from the heart…a little piece of art’, Singer Dan Gillespie unconvincingly tells….Drab!

And cut to the good stuff –Rosé-perfection in motion. Beauty and poetry; chilling to the bone and their atmospheric pauses made this snippet delightful. It moved me back in 2006 when I first saw it performed live and I’m glad to see it still has a hold on the crowd. It was an explosion of stars, and I loved them for playing it right, and even more so for giving it justice.

‘Fill My Little World’ got the people involved once more, with the ‘b-b-b-baby’ catching on and acting as a reminder of exactly what they’ve produced over recent years. These hits are good for the intent and purposes of pop music, but the newbie’s just haven’t got the vivaz, the panache. Frankly, the new stuff is as exciting as listening to Signal One’s drive time show. After snapping out of these thoughts, I’m back into the swing of this particular song, and Oh God I’m clapping; The Feelingitus is catching and the whammy of the guitar is oh so good, if this isn’t a guilty pleasure I don’t know what is. The ‘never be lonely’ chant is nice and rosy; a little idyll on stage which is sickeningly pleasant, but reality isn’t like this. Thus they lack conviction and standing in their lyrical world of fluffy clouds, where the amps do more than the vocals.

Off with the rose tinted glasses, the harsh reality of tonight’s performance is that their new stuff just doesn’t fit the musical climate of today. It’s as though it somehow slipped into the void of dead 80’s electro pop, lying next to A Flock of Seagulls. The only newbie with any weight to it was ‘Soldier’, featuring fight, angst and grit: ‘the blood on your hands getting colder’.

Overall, I had mixed feelings about tonight. It’s sad to think they might only get by doing working men’s clubs dishing out the golden oldies as throwbacks from the early 00’s, and they were enjoyable, but as for their future, I’m not so sure of their horizons.

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