Gary Lawrence laps up the return of the fun-loving Feeder,  and comes away smiling

There is a time in a band’s life when it reaches a comfort zone, that isn’t to say it is going through the motions but it is the point where it is happy in its own skin and secure in what it is trying to say.

That’s the point Feeder are obviously at. They glow with an assurance that comes from 20 years of playing a back catalogue of great songs live.

They are heralded on stage by Space Oddity and a holographic backdrop that looks like a cross between the 70s Doctor Who titles and the Pearl & Dean ident. I’ve seldom seen the O2 so busy.

Feeder began life as a grunge outfit and their early roots are clearly visible as they attack their set list with gusto. Three guitars, drums and keyboards make a lot of noise and the triumvirate of axes, led by frontman Grant Nicholas, make the floor throb with headbangers Universe of Life and Renegades. Think mid-career Nirvana, The Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins.

But this band’s output is not all about thrashing strings, a lot of it speaks of adversity, mostly in relationships. The less eardrum-battering Feeling A Moment and Lost & Found is designed specifically for the heartbroken Nu-Metaller as he weeps bitter tears of rejection into his J&D and Coke.

They are no stranger to an arena anthem either. Plenty of songs feature crowd-engaging woahs and woo-hoos.

Nicholas is a very likeable stage presence. To say he and his mates look as if they are just happy to still be up there in front of an audience might sound a little patronising but it’s true. The audience respond to the bonhomie with football chants of ‘Feeder, Feeder’, Grant is thrown a baseball cap and he plonks it on his head.

This is a band entirely comfortable in their own identity, they are under no pressure to look cool or protect an image, just five blokes who are probably a bit old to be wearing T-shirts but nevertheless having a whale of a time. A few months ago we saw Embrace at the O2 and although I never cared for them much in their pomp they were a joy for exactly the same reason.

The audience is having fun too. In front of us a girl leaps about like a grasshopper on a hotplate. The boyfriend who has obviously been dragged along couldn’t look more uncomfortable if he’d been wearing top hat and tails with scuba flippers. He goes off to get her a drink and immediately she heads down to the front by the stage. The possibly soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend returns and stands there like a lost explorer in a jungle clearing, looking for his missing date. From our vantage point we can see her blonde head now bouncing around at the front. I suspect he’s still searching for her.

The band enter the home straight with chart-topper and archetypal break-up song Just The Way I’m Feeling and then cross the finish line with their best known song, Buck Rogers. The room is in a frenzy, men who haven’t pogoed since John Major was Prime Minister are slopping Tuborg over their tour T-shirts and even the previously zombified bar staff twirl their plastic swipe cards in time to the music.

This is the third time I’ve heard Buck Rogers live and still the inexplicable lyric about the consumption of cider (Is it from a levy? A leather? Forever?) remains a mystery.