Friday, 23 July 2010

Live Review: Funeral For A Friend - July 22nd 2010

The University of Cardiff’s Student Union bar seems the perfect setting to perform a seven-year-old album, as most of the crowd tonight are in their late teens and early twenties. 'Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation' was likely the soundtrack to the teen years of everyone in the venue tonight, and faces are glowing with anticipation of what is to come.

As people trickle through the doors, Young Guns hit the stage and begin an impressive set. It’s almost a shame that a portion of the crowd are yet to turn up, and those already present are either unfamiliar with Young Guns’ material, or are saving their energy for the headline act. Everyone makes an attempt to enjoy themselves, with most of the crowd joining in when frontman Gustav Wood encourages hand-clapping, and thankfully the band have the energy that the crowd lacks. They’re fun to watch and they will make you tap your toes, at least, but would have fared better with a more familiar audience.
What’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster? No, it’s The Automatic, more commonly known as the has-beens of 2006. The start of their performance means “cigarette break” to some and “let’s go buy a pint” to others – the gathering of people around the bar sums up the set pretty well. And when frontman Robin Hawkins exclaimed that “we had a new album out in March!” the room fell silent. “I guess no one’s heard of it then?” Damn right. Technically, they played well. Their problem was that they were the wrong band to play tonight.

You could feel the swelling excitement in the room as Funeral For A Friend walked onstage, an excitement that didn’t die for the
whole night. Breaking into Rookie of the Year, it was obvious that the band felt the same nostalgia as the crowd, every word being belted at the tops of voices in every inch of the Solus. From the first few bars of the song, it was clear that tonight would be special, and never forgotten by departing guitarist Darran Smith. As the crowd knew the order of the setlist before they even arrived, no one missed a beat, even when the band barely paused after one song and continued into the next. The night flowed, nigh-on every member of the audience knowing exactly what to sing and when. Matt Davies’ interaction with the crowd was flawless, from his jokes about the predictable setlist to comments about how well the audience knew the lyrics. He knew what this album meant to the crowd, and he made the most of it.   

After the crowd jumping themselves into a sweaty mess, the set mellowed to Your Revolution is a Joke, a slow, beautiful, stripped-bare sing along. The sweaty mess became a backing choir for Matt Davies, singing their hearts out to every word, before the rest of the
band returned to kick into Waking Up. After some fumbling on Darran’s part before album finisher, Novella, the band completed the album on a high note, leaving for a brief interval – filled by chants of “Darran! Darran!” from the crowd – before returning with 2007 single Into OblivionFuneral were joined on stage by Bullet For My Valentine’s vocalist, Matt Tuck, for 2003’s This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak, before settling back into a heart-wrenching performance of History, and you could feel the emotional connection between the band and their fans. It was undoubtedly the best song to close the evening, ending with applause and screams and yet more chanting for Darran.

Funeral For A Friend, your history is mine.

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