So far I have spectacularly failed to fulfil my intended investigation into Westlife. To make up for it, last week I took my Mum to see The Feeling play at Somerset House (Mum had wanted to see Duffy, but that had sold out months earlier). The Feeling were my suggestion; Mum wasn’t familiar with their output apart from the odd mention on Radio 2. I’ve listened to both their albums (at least twice through each!) and generally approve of them as a Positive Thing on life’s tally. Mum caught my enthusiasm and declared she was ‘very excited to be seeing live music again’, but would there be anywhere to sit down or should she bring a folding chair?

We arrived much too early, so while reposing in a nearby pub I took the opportunity to further grill Mum about her gig-going youth.

“We saw bands nearly every week, thanks to Bristol Students’ Union. They had plenty of cash to spend on entertainment, so all the famous bands wanted to play there. I can’t possibly remember what they were all called. Who was it who did ‘If Paradise Is Half As Nice’? That guy was great! And Free, they were good too. The tickets were always cheap, and you’d get a *proper* support act as well as all the rubbish student bands.”

So what was Mum’s favourite gig experience?

“Definitely the Who! I’d never heard anything so loud in my life! I couldn’t hear properly for three days afterwards – that’s quite worrying when you think about it really, isn’t it? We had to stand as far away from them as we could on the other side of the room, but of course they were used to playing huge stadiums and didn’t bother turning it down for us. Yes, that was the one where I met your father.” Long pause. “Anyway, did I tell you about the time I met Lulu at the working mens’ club? ”

Mum finished off both her anecdote and her chardonnay, and we headed over the venue. Somerset House is absolutely lovely on a sunny evening, and even scrubs up well on an overcast one. The gender split among the punters was more equal than was evident at last year’s Enrique gig; teenage girls down the front, parents at the back (with plenty of youngsters begging to be lifted onto their dads’ shoulders for a better view), then Mum and me somewhere in the middle.

I went to investigate the bar (“Do they do Earl Grey here, Katherine?”), which was enforcing an excellent single-queue system. Alas they only served Brothers Pear Cider in 500ml plastic bottles instead of the quart-sized containers I had hoped for, but in hindsight this was probably for the best.

As the support band (enjoyable Police-lite dubby punk) got everyone bopping, the sound got carried away on a gust of wind for a few seconds – I suddenly remembered that I was outdoors. Watching a band I’d never heard of with some perry in my hand. For the first time this year. Had my self-imposed festival ban been such a good idea after all? Mum soon snapped me out of this uneasy introspection. “At least they can do harmonies! It’s good to see young people with some musical talent!”

Soon enough The Feeling bounded on stage to a banging electro beat, which startled Mum a little. “Gosh, it’s very loud!” Having earlier shown her my earplugs in the pub (and described their necessary usage at the recent 126-decibel MBV gig) I merely yelled back “On a scale of 1 to The Who, how loud is this?” I received a dismissive shake of the head and a big grin in reply.

The Feeling have an excellent nose for picking their best songs as singles, and merrily churned them all out, one after the other. In between all the jaunty pop, Dan explained the band’s frazzled appearance. “We’ve been filming a video and haven’t really slept for the last 3 days! We don’t really know what’s going on. Sorry!” A quick glance over to the wings, and a baffled conversation with a roadie. “Er, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome on stage – some bloke called Graeme!” Poor Graeme stepped up to the microphone, blurting out a nervous “Will you marry me?” to numerous cheers and squeals. The band effortlessly launched right back into ‘Never Be Lonely’ (including of course some mandatory audience participation – Mum waved her hands in the air whilst I held her anorak), and by the end of the song Dan happily informed us that “She’s said ‘yes’!”.

Though second album Join With Us is rather intense to listen to all in one sitting – almost more prog than pop – the stately courtyard of Somerset House seemed to easily soak up the bombast, as if to say ‘on a scale of 1 to the 1812 Overture this is nothing‘. A good thing too – it’s easy to imagine that Dan Gillespie Sells’ true songwriting aim is to write a opera/music-hall crossover concept album. Also, the band interspersed their wig-outs with more delicate piano numbers from debut album 12 Stops & Home, giving Mum the opportunity to go and lean on the railings at the side for a bit. “This perry stuff tastes alright actually, doesn’t it?”

By now the sun had gone down and the back catalogue was nearly exhausted. “You know this one, don’t you Mum? This is the one off the advert.” Or was it? It had the same Chaz & Dave piano riff, but the chorus was different. Then I realised that the song had TWO choruses and the advert only used one of them. How dare they? And the next track, ‘Sewn’, didn’t have two choruses so much as a glorious collection of interchangable refrains that Dan was randomly picking and choosing which should come next. The Feeling’s gift for catchy melodies have surely earned them one of the widest demographics of fans I’ve seen at a gig in a long while. They aren’t just Mum-Pop, but Everyone-Pop. Even if the Mums do have to leave during the encore (a non-challenging cover of A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’) to get the last tube.