Sunday, May 15, 2011

Melody and Manic Pop with The Feelies

The Feelies put on another energetic and entertaining show last night at Middle East in Cambridge, Mass. Their two sets, plus the usual multiple encores, featured many old favorites from their back catalog, as well as several songs from their new release, Here Before, their first CD in 19 years. The band has been playing a few of the new songs from Here Before on their brief tours in recent years, but last night’s gig featured more of them, including the impressive slower-tempoed title track.

Here’s the band’s spirited rendition of one of my favorite tracks, “Higher Ground,” from last night’s show.

The song originally appeared on 1988’s Only Life CD, the band’s best in my book.

The Feelies have always been known for their creative choice of covers in live performance, often drawing upon choice cuts by The Beatles, The Velvet Underground, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Wire, R.E.M. and others. Last night, was the first time I’d ever heard them do this classic, opening track from Exile on Main Street.

Not your typical Feelies type tune, but they pulled it off pretty well, I think.

Check out my full review of last year’s Feelies’ show at the Middle East here. I don’t think last night’s show quite matched the spark of last year’s (or the six encores!), but it was still a strong performance and a good time. I hope to be able to continue seeing them every year or so. The time is right!


  1. Hmmm, I have to disagree with you on a couple points: one, Crazy Rythyms is also a great album. And two: My wife and I have seen The Feelies as much as we can (given their long hiatus, there haven't been many) including their New Year's Eve show at The Wellmont Theater in NJ with Yo La Tengo a few years ago. This concert at The Middle East was as good as we've seen them. Glen and Bill were virtually bouncing off each other with gleeful abandon. The whole band was cooking. This is one of America's most under appreciated bands as far as I'm concerned. I'll bet Jonathan Demme agrees with me too!

  2. Thanks for the comment. Really!

    I don't think we're really in disagreement. I didn't say I didn't think Crazy Rhythms is a great album. In fact, I didn't reference it one way or the other. I merely stated that Only Life is my personal favorite, and that was only mentioned in relation to the first video included here. If pressed, I'd probably say The Good Earth is my next favorite. We'll see where the new one lands over time. I like it quite a bit and it's still growing on me. Several of the songs on it I've heard the band play live in recent years (including "Time Is Right," which they've been playing since 2008, at least).

    Saturday's Middle East show was the 4th or 5th time I've seen the band (the first time being in 1986, but the rest in the last 3-4 years). I didn't say Saturday's gig wasn't a very good show, I merely said it didn't quite match last year's incredible Middle East show, which was similarly 2 full sets (with 6 encores!). The band seemed even more pumped for that one, and the crowd was certainly more into it (not that this year's audience didn't appreciate it, too).

    Finally, I agree with you that The Feelies are one of America's most under-apreciated bands, and they have been for a long time! Let's hope that we're seeing a rebirth of the band that will be sustained and they'll finally get the wider appreciation they've so long deserved.

    As for Jonathan Demme, I don't really care what he thinks.