The Feeling - High Voltage @ Manchester Roadhouse - 27.3.06

Ending on a stadium hands in the air clapathon with shouts out to the people at the side and the back to "stop worrying about being cool because life's too short for that", The Feeling set themselves up as the anti to everything that the Arctic Monkeys stand for. Not surprisingly they started off as a covers band and managed to blag a few seasons in the Alps. Growing tired of playing Beatles and Bangles covers they set about writing unashamed pop songs which could take in everything from Elton to Elo, The Carpenters to the Band.

Whereas most bands go straight for the head The Feeling head straight for the heart and win you over with sumptuous melodies, lyrics which talk about hitting that mid 20s crisis point where you're old enough to know what love is, but not old enough to take the serious things which come with settling down into a steady relationship. In short The Feeling are an emo band for those a little older whose worries have tripped out of the school gates and into the indifference of being a team leader in a call centre in the middle of Stoke or somewhere equally dead. Their appeal is much wider though than this niche market with tonight's audience members including a line-dancing couple who shake up Garth Brooks style manoeuvres and a chav in full on leisure wear.

The forthcoming album is sumptuous and filled to the brim with pop hooks and while it's polished it's not a case of glossing over the weak parts. It's still a very much stripped back sound with the vocal 3 part harmonies making up much of the production rather than layering strings across each track and its tonight on the live show why they still make a mark. Roughed up around the edges a little the likes of "Love It When You Call", a song about friends drifting as they settle into their respective relationships, "Lonely" a song about the warmth of being in a relationship and "Strange", well just about being strange and not fitting in. Despite one of their members being Mr Sophie Ellis Bextor it seems the Feeling are the opposite of Bextors previous band The Audience where title's were stretched into Carol Vorderman-esque lengths of vowels and contants. In their world nothing is over complicated and if it can't be summed up in a 10 second hook then they've lost, ahem, The Feeling.

Naturally the Top 10 smash "Sewn" gets the biggest reaction of the night but this "credible" track in the labels eyes ultimately feels a little flat compared to what will soon be unleashed onto the British Public. As the Feeling themselves say, while the Arctic Monkeys and Babyshambles may be darlings of the British inkie's they'll never be more than a marginal concern in the rest of Europe or in the States because the melodies aren't strong enough. By this time next year us Brits may just have to be content with a stadium show here and a stadium show there because this band are going to go stellar

Alex McCann

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