The Feeling, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

 

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The Independent Culture

I met Dan Gillespie Sells, the lead singer of The Feeling, at a corporate law firm's LGBT event in Soho just a few weeks ago (he is openly gay and supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender causes). He spoke softly and apologetically about having to leave the event early to catch his tour bus to Ullapool, in Scotland, as though it was the N73 to Oxford Circus and he had to get up early for a morning meeting, not a gig, not for thousands of fans.

 

So it was this unassuming bloke that expected to see perform on stage. At the gig, his chit-chat was just as pedestrian as before ("I'm in the mood for dancing round like a prat. What about you?" he asked) and he danced to the first song, "Set My World On Fire" by spreading his arms wide and mimicking what seemed to be a camp eagle. But he was less awkward. He seemed taller, he had the poised strength of a dancer, his smile was... sexy. He looked something like a rock star.

The band makes fun, light-hearted pop. Tunes like the undeniably catchy "100 Sinners", and meaningless yet memorable "Sewn" dominated the set list. So the gig, which was on the last night of their tour, had an appropriately uninhibited party atmosphere.

The evening was peppered with surprises. The rendition of their first single "Fill My Little World" finished with a vocal flourish as the band cut the instruments and harmonised vocals. An unexpected cover of Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" (including the penny-whistle bits), stirred up the fans to a frenzied foot-stomping dance.

But the best moment was in "Leave Me Out of It", a glittery Eighties-style electro-pop ballad from the band's new album, Together We Were Made. The video backdrop showed close-ups of a red-lipped Sophie Ellis-Bextor looking hypnotically beautiful, then she emerged, singing the silken lyrics, "don't know what love is 'til you've had mine". I believed her.

The band is slick, but at times it seems too well rehearsed. Moments of supposed spontaneity had a well-practised feel. During "Sewn", Gillespie Sells and Richard Jones turn back-to-back and thrash their guitars for precisely eight beats. A silver piano is smoothly wheeled in by mysterious men in black for Gillespie Sells to do an Elton John through the soft rock love song "Rosé".

Gillespie Sells's poses risk coming so close to a pure pastiche of Freddie Mercury's gestures that it looks like he's rehearsed them in front of a mirror.

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