Exeter Phoenix, Wednesday, March 19.
Times and personal circumstances have changed a little since pop maestros The Feeling played their last Westcountry show, filling out Plymouth Pavilions back in 2008.
At that time the Home Counties quintet were riding on the crest of a wave. It had begun two years earlier with the release of their self-recorded debut album Twelve Stops and Home . It spawned catchy singles Fill My Little World, Sewn, Never Be Lonely, Love It When You Call and Rose, bringing good quality pop music back in vogue. Acclaim came from all quarters; The Feeling were the most played band on UK radio in 2006, and the following spring they were named Songwriters of the Year at the Ivor Novello awards.
So, when they were welcomed by adoring fans at the Pavilions for the second year running, their second album Join With Us had gone straight to number one in the charts; earlier in the summer they had debuted at Glastonbury on the Pyramid Stage and they were in the middle of their biggest UK tour to date.
Wind forward five-and-a-bit years and they are showcasing album number four – the hook and melody-crammed Boy Cried Wolf, released under a new worldwide deal with BMG Chrysalis – at more modest venues, like Exeter Phoenix.
But there’s no hint of displeasure about this state of affairs from keyboard player Ciaran Jeremiah.
“It’s quite nice, really,” he muses. “We’re not going back to the same size venues, but it’s just nice to be back doing it.
“It’s like a hark back to our roots. We are really proud of the new album and we are just pleased to be back out doing this again.
“We’ve had time off to have babies and that sort of thing,” adds Ciaran. “I have a 19-month-old daughter now... and I got married.”
Not that they have ever stopped making music, but the pop genre they represent has had a spell in the wilderness.
“Pop has become a dirty word – people associate it with boy or girl bands. But the Beatles were pop. In terms of structure and songs, it has to be accessible and that it what we mean by pop,” he says.
The band made their first LP in the garden shed at Ciaran and guitarist brother Kevin’s parents’ house. Vocalist Dan Gillespie-Sells and bassist Richard Jones were teenage friends who met at the Brit School; the Jermiahs and drummer Paul Stewart were schoolfriends in West Sussex.
They all worked as session players, famously cutting their teeth as a ski resort covers band. Ciaran says he always wanted to be a musician.
“My parents played a lot Irish folk music around the house; my mum played piano and Kevin and I both had lessons. We were both in bands from the age of 11 or 12 – it’s been a way of life for us.”
Ciaran cites Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers as the early obsession and inspiration that set him on a journey of musical explorations. He’s happy in the knowledge that others attach the same significance to songs by The Feeling as part of the soundtrack to their lives.
“When we were signed to a massive label, things did get quite big, which was an amazing experience,” he reflects. “But we have had that experience now; priorities change, and as long as we can keep making good music and releasing albums and tour, it doesn’t have to be at a massive level.”