Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Live Review: Funeral For A Friend - 13th April 2016, Birmingham

The first time I saw Funeral For A Friend live was at Taste of Chaos in 2005. When they played History, everyone in the arena held out their mobile phones to light up the venue. The Llanelli Male Choir joined them on stage. It was a performance I'll never forget.

The queue snaking behind the O2 Institute, around roadworks and pneumatic drills, means that I missed Zoax tonight.

I do, however, manage to catch Shai Hulud's full set. The band are dripping with attitude, and frontman Matty Carlock behaves like an angry Adam Lazzara. I can't help but feel bad for them - they're constantly trying to rile up the crowd, bring some movement and enthusiasm in, but it's just not happening. Stationary, as the audience often is during support bands, and their pleas aren't working. Their cover of NOFX's Linoleum garners the most attention, and I hope that they get a better reception tomorrow.

There's something magical about being in a room full of people who know every word to every song. Within seconds, it's obvious that the fans didn't just want to be here, they have to be here.

Funeral For A Friend take the stage humbly - frontman Matt Davies-Kreye asks for the house lights to come up to say hello, and tells us we're welcome to scream, cry and bleed, as long as we don't die. They have an explosive start with All The Rage, following with Streetcar. The audience is so involved, so passionate, that you barely even notice when Matt stops singing to take a breath - the words are still there, loud and clear. 

It really begins to kick in that this is the farewell tour when they play Roses For The Dead. There's no point pretending that my eyes aren't watering, whether that's for the realisation that this is the end, or because it's kind of overwhelming that everyone in the room knows exactly when to raise their hand, when to pause, when to clap. We've all done this so many times that we know the cues. 

The band are obviously enjoying themselves throughout the evening, but Matt's heartfelt thanks between songs show that calling it quits is the right thing to do - back in 2011, he told me that this nearly happened years ago. 

After they've played 'Hours' in full, Matt performs a solo rendition of I Am The Arsonist, before jumping into Sixteen. They declare 1% a fuck-you to tax dodging politicians - a dedication that goes down extremely well with everyone here. 

The surprise of the evening is a guest appearance from Darran Smith, the ex-guitarist who had his own send-off shows back in 2010. To have him perform Juneau with the current line-up is more than any of us could hope for. 

The band dedicates Escape Artists Never Die to those in the crowd who won't be back tomorrow, who won't get a chance to see this fantastic band again. 

Those of us who will are in for a treat tomorrow night. 

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