However, one record that rarely, if ever, gets mentioned in commentaries about 1997 is Polythene, the debut LP by Feeder. Released at a time when Britpop had taken over the mainstream and three months before Oasis were about to deliver its death knell in the shape of Be Here Now, to say it's stood the test of time would be an understatement. But then if Feeder ever needed an endorsement of their own continued existence that would be it. Timeless, mainly because they've continually operated on their own terms throughout. Never ones to pander towards any genre or scene, they've amassed a loyal following that's stuck with them through thick and then. Sometimes in the face of adversity yet always coming out the other side stronger.
Next year will be their 25th as a band, and while many of their contemporaries can be seen trawling the nostalgia circuit on an annual basis, Feeder continue to confound. Indeed, the four full length albums they've put out since 2008's Silent Cry up to 2016's All Bright Electric stand out as some of their finest collections of work to date, highly acclaimed by both critics and devotees alike. It's a testament to both Grant Nicholas and Taka Hirose that they're still a creative force to be reckoned with.
Nevertheless, tonight is a celebration of their back catalogue, a canon stretching back to debut single 'Stereo World', released in the autumn of 1996 and given a rare outing on this tour. What's most endearing is how it fits seamlessly with the rest of the evening's set, bookended by 'Insomnia' - one of their biggest hits of the 1990s when their scuzzy punk pop rallied against the pudding bowl haircut and oversized anorak retro sounds of the day and felt all the better for it - and 'Figure You Out', one of the band's newest compositions released at the tail end of last year to coincide with The Best Of... compilation these shows have been billed to commemorate.
While Feeder's commercial peak in the early 2000s coincided with an era that will be looked back on as a transitional period in music, those songs also introduced them to a brand new audience. So while the likes of opener 'Feeling A Moment' and closing couplet of 'Just The Way I'm Feeling' and 'Buck Rogers' unsurprisingly receive the loudest roars of approval, some of the band's more obscure gems are greeted in a similar fashion by a very appreciative audience.
Like 'My Perfect Day' for example, another song that dates back to their humble beginnings having initially been released as a B-side on the aforementioned 'Stereo World' 45 before its inclusion on Polythene the following year. Having been re-recorded last year then subsequently reintroduced into the live set, its received here with a warmth and sincerity normally reserved for homecomings or victory parades. Likewise, 2006's 'Lost And Found', another of the band's singles that disappeared into the annals without trace pretty much as soon as it came out. Now reinvigorated for this tour, it shines immeasurably as a highlight of the set.
Elsewhere, 1997's breakthrough single 'High' is dedicated to the band's late drummer Jon Lee, who passed away in 2002, adding a latent poignancy to its refrain "Don't wait up cos I won't be home".. Their later work is exquisitely represented in the shape of 'Universe Of Life' and 'Eskimo', arguably THE two essential cuts from most recent long player All Bright Electric, alongside a celebratory 'Borders' off its predecessor Generation Freakshow, while during the encore, 'Silent Cry', the title track from 2008's flawless return to their unprecedented best and 'Yesterday Went Too Soon' provide a fitting preamble to the now customary, all guns blazing finale that's 'Seven Days In The Sun' and 'Just A Day'. Providing a timely reminder in the process that Feeder are a national institution that should be cherished accordingly.
Here's to the next quarter of a century.
Photo by Mark Moore