Running 14 years deep into their career, Welsh outfit Funeral For A Friend may no longer be revelling in the dizzy heights they saw with their first two records, but with the release of album number seven ‘Chapter And Verse’ only a mere two days away, the quintet haven’t sounded so vibrant or excited to be doing what they do in a while.
Now, at the Manchester date of their latest tour, there’s a steady crowd filtering into Gorilla nice and early for opening support, Creeper (***). The Southampton gothic punks are slowly but surely making waves in the likes of Kerrang! lately, and their amalgamation of early AFI, The Ramones, Fearless Vampire Killers and the foundation of My Chemical Romance at their peak, new single ‘VCR’ along with a look into a new track could well see Creeper be supporting at much bigger shows very soon.
Heading into far more hardcore territory, the genre that birthed tonight’s headliners, No Bragging Rights (***) skimmed Death’s icy grip only a few days ago following an unfortunate road accident with their tour van in Europe, but tonight they are very much alive. Unfortunately frontman Mike Perez‘s vocals sound a little lost in the mix throughout a lot of the band, but when it does burst through and the band are in unison, they have all the makings to stand toe-to-toe with many of their peers.
Certainly not ones for fancy entrances, but also ones who don’t really need an introduction, Funeral For A Friend (****) grace the stage and within minutes have the crowd in the palm of their hands. Sticking with mainly their fast-paced and rough around the edge material along with the staple classics of their first two LPs, FFAF are really ensuring that they’re the band they were in their early years, and not the questionable alt rock FFAF we came to know circa 2007-2010. The punchy ‘You’ve Got A Bad Case Of The Religions’ and ‘Wrench’ are just as welcomed as the post-hardcore melodicies of ‘Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings’ and once radio-botherer ‘Streetcar’.
Much as was the case with No Bragging Rights, the vocals of Matthew Davies-Kreye at times get a little lost underneath the layers of distorted guitars and pounding rhythm work, but these brief dips in sound are only minor blips, and the call-to-arms anthems that are ‘Juneau’ and ‘History’ really get the goosebumps rising when the crowd gets involved. However, it’s the final moments of the set with closer ‘Roses For The Dead’ that claims the biggest highlight of the evening which, now a decade old, is still as sensational as it has always been.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)