Funeral For A Friend have always been a favourite of mine, so when it was announced that they would be playing a date at The Box in Crewe I instantly had to snap up a ticket.
Upon arrival at Crewe, I discovered that the venue was conveniently located right next to the train station – in fact, it took me longer to navigate my way to the exit of the station than it did for me to walk to the venue!
Doors were billed as 7:30pm, with the bands set to come onstage at 8pm, but for some reason it was after 8:15 by the time the first band, In The Cards (5/10) came onstage, who overall sounded a little generic and the vocals seemed to come across as somewhat forced. Frontwoman Amy appeared to be a little bit shy/unconfident as her crowd skills between songs just consisted of introducing the songs, which was a shame. One thing I did like about this band was their phenomenal keyboardist Jacky, but in my opinion he didn’t really have enough time to shine. A few more prominent keyboard lines and solos would have been an absolute treat to hear!
Main support Hildamay (9/10) really brought things up a notch and truly held my interest from start to finish. I was blown away by the power of frontman Tim’s vocals; they were really something to behold and the sheer energy he (and the whole band, in fact!) had throughout the entire set was incredible. The set just seemed to go from strength to strength and by the time they’d finished, I couldn’t help but wish they’d been allotted a longer slot so I could have enjoyed them for even longer. One thing is definitely for sure – I will certainly be catching this band live again!
Of course, it was clear that everybody was there for the mighty Funeral For A Friend (10/10), who put on the best performance I’d seen them give in quite a while. Launching into opener The End Of Nothing, it was like the blue touch paper had been lit and the crowd just exploded into a furiously intense mosh pit. One thing I was extremely happy to notice was that Matt has now really perfected his harsh vocals – back when I saw them in Bridgend for their first show without Ryan, something wasn’t quite and it sounded like he was struggling, but it is a wonder what a year can do because his harsh vocals this time around were absolutely superb.
Next up was Roses For The Dead, for which Matt commanded the crowd to start jumping as soon as the distinctive introduction from Kris filled the room. From my vantage point at one of the raised areas at the side of the room, it was simply a sight to behold as all the bodies began to bounce and move, the room filled with everyone singing along.
After a few jokey comments about “early 2000s emo” to which a crowd member heckled Matt about having a fringe, much to the amusement of both crowd and band alike, Funeral For A Friend launched into new track Conduit, which got another massive reaction from the crowd, showing that people love the new stuff just as much as the old! By the end of this, the whole room was like a sauna, causing Matt to joke that the sweat onstage was 100% official!
She Drove Me To Daytime TV was one of the highlights of the night, with Matt encouraging people to sing into his microphone for the “woahs” in the chorus. Also something I’d just like to note was that I really loved the passion in which bassist Rich sang along to this one (and all the songs in general, to be honest) – when a musician is as enthusiastic as the crowd, it really is a joy to witness!
High Castles was another great track. I will quite happily admit that this is a track I don’t really like, but the opening riff sounded heavier and somehow a little more interesting, and I subsequently found the song a lot more engaging – I don’t quite know what they did to change it, but I liked it!
Once that song had finished, drummer Pat started making some amusing “brrr”ing noises into his microphone; I wondered what was going on at first until I realised he was making a phone noise and that the next song would be Streetcar. Naturally this was one of the more popular songs but it was always going to be Juneau that was going to be the biggest track of the night. With Matt introducing it as being the “second song they ever wrote, right at the arse end of 2001” and that none of them could have imagined they’d still be playing it ten years later, with so many people feeling a connection to it. It was a sweet and heartfelt introduction and the room burst into life as soon as the song got going, with the deafening singing of “but I’m nothing more than a line in your book” lifting the roof.
The night ended with Escape Artists Never Die and the band left the stage to noisy cheers and calls for more. What a night!
Admittedly, the setlist didn’t feature many of my favourite songs of theirs, but the performance was amazing so I really can’t really complain! Besides, Matt said that they can’t please everyone all of the time when it comes to the band, and sometimes compromises have to be made – although saying that, what do I have to do in order to get Monsters back in the set again?!