“Grant Nicholas? From Feeder? Is he still going?”
So is the reaction from people when they hear that Nicholas is in fact out doing his own thing in the music world, promoting new mini-LP ‘Black Clouds’. Nicholas’ previous solo release, ‘Yorktown Heights’, fared reasonably well, considering he was releasing it in the shadow of his former band. Difficult first album done and dusted, he takes to the stage with a point to prove.
Initially appearing nervous, his rapport between songs is static. However, his delivery per each song is butter smooth. The words to Safe In Place roll off his tongue, as the drums roll in to join his sensitive plucking. The clarity in the voice, as well as the instruments, has to be heard to be believed, although the higher notes prove to be a stretch for him towards the end.
Nicholas’ great flow and intense energy is maintained throughout the entire set, to the point where the occasional heckle and shout from the crowd jars unbearably. Counting Steps, like the other songs on ‘Yorktown Heights’ is pretty and simple.
The majority of Nicholas’ solo material is formulaic, in that the intros and outros are uniform – the music ambles in before creeping out. As said above, the result is simple, but effective and incredibly serene.
Time Stood Still sees a moderately tipsy crowd attempt a sing-a-long when they shouldn’t. The addition of the xylophone, and the unexpected drop of percussion, give this American teen movie-sound song a much-needed twist.
Nicholas treats the crowd to plenty of new material, including the title track of new mini album, Black Clouds. Immediately, the tone becomes grizzly, with significantly angrier percussion – not that that would be difficult, considering the tracks that preceded it. The xylophone is, once again, put to great use on this track.
Following this, however, it’s back to basics with Tall Trees. The format is beginning to feel ever-so-tired, as the crowd’s growing disinterest turns to idle chat among themselves. There’s a lick of country-influence as Nicholas lurches during the choruses.
Joan Of Arc is introduced with no heirs and graces, and mirrors the tone of Black Clouds. A track that received a heap of praise from critics, it showcases the melancholy side of his debut solo effort, with a throbbing bridge of space-age synths and keys that sound like they don’t belong to a piano.
Overall, Grant Nicholas took a handful of instruments, simple lyrics, raspy vocals, and produced an album that managed to not be intensely dull. It was hard to see him behind the band that made him, but after delivering a commendable performance, it’s hard to see the band without him. What people expected to be quite the retrospective set, ended up being a set rooted in the now and the future – not the future of Feeder, but the future of its frontman.