After the band announced they would be splitting last year, it was with a slightly heavy heart that I made my way to the final Mancunian Funeral For A Friend shows. Although I’ve had my ups and downs with the band (let’s just say don’t talk to me about their last album and leave it at that), there was no way I was going to miss out on either of these shows because this band has meant a lot to me over the years.
Opening the show was Zoax, and unfortunately due to Seetickets cocking up all the two-day-ticket orders, I didn’t make it inside until about halfway through their set – but what I did see was fantastic. Frontman Adam really worked hard at trying to get the crowd going, even if they weren’t exactly responding in kind, even going so far as to say that they were the warm-up band and they were there to warm everyone up. A great element of their performance was the fact that Adam wasn’t the most rigid of performers, spending a lot of time in the crowd singing at unsuspecting gig-goers and even performed from the balcony level of the venue near the end of the show! This band is going places and with the release of their debut album later on in the year, you can bet we’ll be keeping an eye out for these.
The main support came from Shai Hulud, a band Funeral For A Friend described as being a major influence towards their sound, and it was a real privilege to finally get to see them live after being a fan of theirs for several years. Unfortunately, the crowd response for the band was even more muted than the one given to Zoax and it was rather disheartening to see a band giving a performance their all and not getting much back from the crowd. However it was a good performance regardless of this and hopefully the next time they tour the UK, they’ll get a much better reception.
Of course, it went without saying that everyone was there for Funeral For A Friend and the cheers practically raised the roof as the lights went down and the band took to the stage for the penultimate time in Manchester. With frontman Matt basically telling the crowd to simply have a good time, the band began their Hours set with All The Rage and the sheer volume that people were singing along was truly something to behold and sent shivers down my spine.
The night as a whole was just highly emotive and in all honesty, I lost myself in the music and got completely immersed in it from start to finish. Drive was a particular highlight during the Hours set, with the lyrics of “this could be a movie and this could be our final act, we don’t need these happy endings” really striking a chord, and you could really hear the passion in Matt’s voice as he delivered those powerful words. Another moving performance was of course History, with the crowd giving the band a two-finger salute, and the final Hours song Sonny – as a personal favourite song of mine, getting to see them play it was a real treat as the song is never given a live outing.
Despite there being a somewhat heavy atmosphere at times, there was also occasions for fun and games too, such as two guys dressed up as cow and chicken (although the latter was actually dressed as a duck) joining the band onstage for the track Recovery but one of the hands-down highlights of the night came when the band performed Into Oblivion (Reunion). Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but I loved their Tales Don’t Tell Themselves album but in recent years the band haven’t given any attention to it, which is a crying shame because it really is a masterpiece of an album. I was doubtful that they’d pay attention to this album or the one that followed (Memory And Humanity, which is another woefully under-appreciated and ignored album of theirs) but when they announced they were actually going to be playing a song from it, the cheers were loud and true.
I was happy enough to finally see the song again, as it’s certainly one of the songs in their back-catalogue that has some emotional significance for me, but that wasn’t the best part – the best part was what happened next. Explaining that this was an ‘experiment’ and that they’d never done it before, Matt instructed the whole room to sit down on the floor…and row along to it! With guitarist Gav and bassist Rich miming using oars with their guitars whilst laughing between themselves, the whole room sat down on the floor and started to row – and to say it was hilarious was an understatement. The humour it added to the show was definitely appreciated by all, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who will inevitably wind up rowing along to Oblivion on their next listen.
The night came to a close with Escape Artists Never Die, which was a fitting end to the night, and whetted the crowd’s appetites with a taster for what they could expect on the following day when the band performed Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation.
Words can’t describe how tremendous both this show and the following one were (after the Casually Dressed show there were a fair few teary eyes about – mine included – and my heart went out to Matt, who looked so emotionally spent after the second night) and I’m grateful that Funeral For A Friend embarked on a proper farewell tour so that their fans could all say goodbye.
Thank you, Funeral For A Friend, from the bottom of my heart. It has been a pleasure.