LIVE: Funeral For A Friend @ O2 Ritz, Manchester (09/04/2016)
April 10th, 2016
When it comes to British post-hardcore, or the country’s modern rock scene in general, very few bands have been as prolific, iconic, or as inspirational as Funeral For A Friend. Despite one or two admittedly more miss than hit albums towards the latter end of the 2000s, the Bridgend troupe have been loved and respected by fans and peers alike. This will be Manchester’s last chance to dance, and what more fitting way to detach and bid farewell than experiencing the album that started it all back in 2003, ‘Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation’.
The crowd is a little sparse when Zoax  first take to the stage, but that really doesn’t seem to be an issue. Frontman Adam Carroll points out members of the crowd in the back of the room early on, stating he’ll bring them to the front of the room if they don’t move there themselves. Surely enough, the next song into the set, he’s back there getting them involved. Their style is crunchy yet smooth; if music was ear food then they’d probably be crunchy peanut butter. Be sure to see them headlining stages like this after their debut album drops next month.
Shai Hulud  have got the most experience under their belts out of all three bands this evening, but with what’s being displayed tonight it shows that experience really isn’t everything. The breakdowns are strong, but dabble into the generic each and every time, and, sure, heads are nodding and fists are pumping here and there, but the crowd is as lifeless as the music that’s being pushed out to them.
The sold out room is more than revived as soon as the lights drop, and Funeral For A Friend  take to the stage for what will be the final time in Manchester. Frontman Matt Davies-Kreye welcomes the crowd, and thanks them for sharing this moment with them before kicking into ‘Rookie Of The Year’.
From here on out, the reminder of the set is – to put it mildly – a truly emotional rollercoaster. The call-in-arm refrains for the likes of ‘Moments Forever Faded’ and ‘Juneau’, the latter of which seeing another appearance from Adam Carroll to help on the ‘Juno’-esque screaming front, are tear jerking and overpower the band each and every time. ‘She Drove Me To Daytime Television’ does much the same, ‘Red Is The New Black’ and ‘Waking Up’ sees crowd surfers frequently flying over the barrier, and the solemn and bare ‘Your Revolution Is A Joke’ doesn’t loosen its grasp on the heartstrings.
When the final plucks of the guitar that end ‘Novella’ come to a close, and ‘Casually Dressed…’ is all wrapped up, the show triumphs on. Even older numbers come into play, with ‘This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak’ and ’10:45 Amsterdam Conversations’, the self-confessed first song the band ever wrote together, are particular nostalgic highlights.
Though ‘History’ and its huge chorus could drown out a venue more than twice the size of The O2 Ritz, it’s what follows that delivers the final emotional blow. Davies-Kreye delivers a very heartfelt speech to the fans before him, something he clearly considers family. It’s clear that drawing this chapter to a close is as heartbreaking for them as it is for everyone who has made any connection with this band over their 15 year long career. He speaks of the importance of supporting small bands in tiny venues like this is just as important as supporting them tonight, and otherwise evenings like this wouldn’t even matter, that their music will live on forever, and sadly “all good things must come to an end”. With the closing seconds of curtain closer ‘Roses For The Dead’, the final song that they’ll play in every city of this tour, an era is over.
Funeral For A Friend is more than just a good thing that has now come to an end; the word “good” does them a major injustice. They’re a band who have helped to soundtrack, mould and influence a generation, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It’s no exaggeration that without their existence the way that today’s scene has been shaped, nurtured and grown would be very different. Take a bow FFAF, and, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for the memories.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)