Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Feeling - Thekla, Bristol, 12/03/16

The Feeling's support act, Dani Sylvia, was actually their backing vocalist, so she ended up performing two sets in the evening. I thought it was a brilliant idea, because it gave her a chance to showcase her original material from her EP, 'Monologues', which was released last month.
I didn't enjoy Dani's first song, 'Perfection Generation', because it had a very heavy dance backing track. It felt very uncomfortable to start a set with something so full on, especially when the crowd weren't really reacting - it really needed a response from the audience, but it was too early in the set for people to be dancing. I was, however, instantly impressed with Dani's songwriting skills: the song is a great piece of social commentary, featuring the chorus "Comparison is our addiction, Perfection Generation".
I don't really listen to dance music or solo female vocalists, so this was a very unique live experience for me. Despite the fact that I wasn't in love with the first song, I really enjoyed the rest of the set. Dani has a brilliant skill for telling stories with her songs, ranging from 'Get Over Me', about a cheating ex-boyfriend, to 'Omniscient', which is a plea to a higher power. When performing 'Three', Dani joked that "this song is also about assholes, it's a running theme of the night", but she isn't one of those artists that gets stuck on one subject - all of the songs were very varied, whether in their meaning or in their style. 'Three' and 'Mother' were both slower songs, and hearing such range in one support slot was quite a surprise - there was no possible way to get the songs confused with each other, because they all stand out. 'Omniscient' was quite reminiscent of 'Turning Tables' by Adele, but the rest of the songs were very individual and with Dani's style shifting between singing and almost rapping it was interesting to see where the song was going to go next. She's definitely good at crafting a set, because all of the songs complemented each other and her half an hour stage time flew past.
Even with the brilliant lyrics and the beat-filled tracks, the songs wouldn't have sounded so great if it hadn't been for Dani's amazing voice. Whereas a lot of dance singers go over the top and do too many vocal tricks, Dani has full control of her voice and knows exactly what she's doing - there were no awkward theatrics, and I appreciated her much more because she didn't feel the need to sing wailing, endless high notes to impress the audience - she knows she's talented.
But as well as being a great writer and having an amazing voice, Dani was so humble and thankful that people had listened to her: it was very endearing. She mentioned the fact that she was selling her EP, putting 5% of each sale to a bone cancer charity - for an upcoming artist to already be raising money for charity shows what a great person she is.
I didn't manage to get a copy of the EP at the end of the show because the queue for Dani was so long, but I'm definitely going to download it. If you like dance music with meaning, this is definitely the artist for you - you can have fun to the songs, but they tell a story too. I would never have encountered Dani normally, but I'm very glad that I got to see her live.  

Perfection Generation
Get Over Me

The Feeling released their self-titled fifth album just over a week ago, and after listening to it once I wasn't really sure how I felt. Compared to their early material it's a more mature sound, and with a lot of the songs timing in at over five minutes it's definitely not the kind of record that I normally listen to.
Starting the set off with 'Fill My Little World' was a great way to grab the attention of the crowd: whereas the new album has been out for a matter of days, the fan favourites are nearly a decade old. Every single person in the room was screaming along to the words, die-hard fans and casual listeners alike, and the atmosphere was utterly electric.
I'd been looking forward to hearing a few songs off of their new album live, but when vocalist Dan Gillespie Sells paused, saying that "the point of this tour" was to play the new album (almost) in full, I was surprised. It's a ballsy move to showcase a new album in a live environment, especially when you have four other albums that you could choose to play songs from. Playing such a well-known track had gotten everyone involved, but because a lot of the crowd hadn't heard the new songs yet was it going to be a mistake?
The answer to that question: a 100%, definite no.
Whereas hearing the recording of 'The Feeling' left me feeling disconnected and a little (dare I say it?) bored, the songs in a live environment are a completely different beast. A lot of the fans in the crowd had obviously already heard it, because the amount of people singing along to the songs - especially at this early stage of the album release cycle - was mind-blowing. Dani Sylvia commented during her set that a lot of people had been at every show so far on the tour (this was the fourth date, with two more to come) and that would have helped it, but it did shock me. I just didn't think The Feeling were a band who incited this hysterical of a reaction from a crowd.
Their new album definitely needs to be experienced, rather than just listened to - it comes alive in a live environment, and it makes so much more sense. The six minute 'Feel Something' is just too much on a recorded track, but I've never felt six minutes pass faster - I can understand completely why Dan chose it as his favourite song off of the new album.
The most interesting moment of the evening was definitely 'Real Deal', in which Dan went and sat behind the keyboards, allowing keyboardist Ciaran Jeremiah to take centre stage. Dan shared the fact that the band often switch instruments when they're recording to try out different sounds, saying "there was a particularly weird song where Kevin (Jeremiah, guitarist and Ciaran's brother) played drums. [...] It was a backward beat where one was somewhere weird in the bar and we couldn't decipher it". Kevin quickly defended his playing style, quipping "it was where it was supposed to be, everyone else was wrong!". It's certainly an interesting way of recording, and it was good to get some insight into how the band work in a studio environment.
'Real Deal' becomes quite surreal towards the end of the song, with the combined vocals complementing each other and elevating the song to an unbeatable climax. Dani's backing vocal certainly shone, and you can see why the band have been working with her - she works well with them, and their onstage chemistry was wonderful. Her vocal was also brilliant on 'What's The Secret' (where she completely owned the ending, singing over the top of the band having what was essentially a jam session) and 'Shadow Boxer' (in which Dani and Kevin's voices complemented each other perfectly, making a beautiful harmony).
My favourite song from the new album is definitely 'Repeat To Fade': it's very powerful, and as soon as the song finished Dan apologised, saying "I should have warned you that one was noisy!". It was the heaviest song that they performed, but it's filled with such pure emotion that you feel every second. I also really enjoyed 'Alien', the nuances of which are demonstrated beautifully when you can feel the instruments in your chest. It also got a great laugh from the crowd when Dan joked "I wrote that song about my boyfriend!".
The ending of 'Non-Stop American' also worked amazingly with a crowd. The singalong was spine-tingling in its intensity, and the band looked so impressed with the response: Dan was out of breath when the song finished, and before starting 'Sleep Tight' (their self-confessed lullaby to "put people to sleep at the end of our records") he joked "take your breath, take a sec". When the crowd need a break from their contribution, you know that you're experiencing a brilliant show.
Of course, the moment everyone had been waiting for was the encore of the show. With Dan promising they'd play another couple of old songs I'd been expecting two or three - when they picked another four songs from their debut album, 'Twelve Stops and Home', I was over the moon.
The encore started with 'Never Be Lonely', with its "B-b-b-b-baby" call driving the crowd into a frenzy. Dan held an insanely long note - I couldn't time it, but it must have been about thirty seconds continuously, in a rather high pitch - and it was the most impressive vocal trick I'd ever seen. To perform something like that at the end of a set would be difficult enough (at this point the band had already been on stage for an hour!) but Dan had mentioned earlier in the night that he wasn't well, constantly eating cough sweets on doctor's orders (he shared that Paul Stewart, their drummer, was ready behind him to do to Heimlich manuveur, but after pronouncing it incorrectly joked "Hindlick? Like, behind me, and then you lick me?"). You'd never have known he was ill: he was pouring every drop of energy that he had into singing, and even when his voice was a little rough around the edges it was at points where it worked brilliantly. The rest of the set was note perfect, and to be able to hold out a note for that long when not at the top of his game... It makes me think Dan's an unbeatable vocalist when he's 100% healthy.
The rest of the encore included the romantic 'Rosé', the heart-breaking 'Sewn', and the bubbling fun of 'Love It When You Call'... The set had peaked, and I was so happy with all of the songs that the band had chosen to include. Five singles were released from that album, and they'd played all five: who could complain?
But when the band exited the stage, the crowd were still calling for more. The encore was already over, and I was sure it was the end of the set. 'I Thought It Was Over'... but it wasn't, as the band burst back out on to the stage and finished with my favourite song that they've ever released. I'm not ashamed to admit that I lost my shit (just a little bit, though...) but it was the perfect ending to the night - the main set might have been a slow burner, but saving the majority of the well-known hits to the end AND performing two encores? This show embodied the word spectacular.
I've never seen The Feeling before, but I'm definitely going to see them again. The band said that they were hoping to tour again before the end of the year - I have my fingers crossed. 

Fill My Little World
Wicked Heart
Feel Something
Real Deal
What's The Secret
Repeat To Fade
Shadow Boxer
Young Things
Non-Stop American
Sleep Tight
Never Be Lonely
Love It When You Call
I Thought It Was Over


  1. So glad you had a great time and your review is spot on. I have seen The Feeling a few times (66) and have NEVER left disappointed :)

    1. Wow, that's amazing! Hopefully I'll be able to see them again soon - it was a very impressive first show :)

  2. Sounds about right to me - an ace band...