On the fourteenth of September, 2015, Funeral for a Friend announced that, after fifteen years of the finest, most emotive, crushing, beautiful music, they were calling it a day, and would signal their final farewell with a nationwide, twenty six-date long tour, playing their albums Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation (2003) and Hours (2005) in their respective entireties, as they are arguably the best examples of fan favourites that you’ll find in the post-hardcore scene, or indeed any genre of music.
If you have happened to come across any of my other pieces for Invicta Magazine, you’ll be relatively well aware that Funeral for a Friend are my favourite band of all time, and I am a staunch advocate of the position that Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation is my favourite ever album, an absolute tumult of emotion, energy, and unrelenting fervour from start to finish. So to wake up one day, check Facebook, and discover that my favourite ever band were breaking up but they were playing my favourite ever album in full as a goodbye was the very epitome of bittersweet. I’ve never bought tickets, or anything for that matter, so fast.
Unfortunately I arrived at the Ritz too late to see ZOAX, so attempting to give them an honest review would be a little futile. Sorry lads. However, I did have plenty of time to see legendary Floridian metalcore titans Shai Hulud succeed in whipping the relatively stationary crowd into a frenzy with their catalogue of songs boasting crushing riffs and positively demonic breakdowns. I don’t know a lot about Shai Hulud or even their stuff, but I do know that they’ve been in the scene even longer than Funeral for a Friend, spanning an impressive 21 years of delivering raucous, punishing, and original metal on a regular basis. The sound in the venue didn’t exactly do them any favours and even a pedantic fret-watcher like myself was struggling to pick apart what was going on in the songs, but nonetheless Shai Hulud dominated their support slot and left everyone even more eager for the main event.
When Funeral for a Friend took to the stage with thunderous applause and immediately launched into Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation opener Rookie of the Year, something deep within every member of the audience shifted, and it was like we were all fourteen again, screaming angry lyrics to posters in our bedrooms. Again, it sounds pretentious, but the reason this was such an unforgettable night was because it resurrected such passion and emotion in every person in the room. And when the bridge section of Juneau came on, arguably one of the band’s most well-known songs, the atmosphere within the Ritz became even more nostalgic and eclectic; I can only imagine how it felt for the band having people, people who have since grown up and become professionals and bought houses and got married and have had kids, sing lyrics back at you that you yourself first penned well over a decade ago in a small town in South Wales.
Funeral for a Friend managed to give every single song on that album the perfect farewell, even the lesser-known ones that the fans mightn’t be as familiar with like Storytelling or Novella. But no, the audience who came to FFAF’s farewell were just as incredible as the band themselves, singing back every single lyric, no matter how dehydrated, exhausted, or fucking knackered they were. And as the last few bars of Novella came to a dignified end, we all knew we’d closed the book on something special. From start to finish, Funeral for a Friend’s rendition of Casually Dressed had been absolutely perfect; the thunderous breakdown of Bullet Theory, the soaring choruses of She Drove Me To Daytime Television, and the acoustic anthem Your Revolution is a Joke not only perfectly recaptured the teenage of 90% of the frenzied audience but did perfect justice to an album that has well and truly shaped the genre of British alternative rock forever.
And as if this send-off wasn’t enough already, the band well and truly went the extra mile and dusted off song b-sides and rarities that I wouldn’t have anticipated seeing live in my wildest fucking dreams. There are a handful of renowned FFAF b-sides such as This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak or You Want Romance? but most of them are misty even for fans of the band, let alone casual listeners. So to hear the band dust off this forgotten relics and tear into them as though they wrote them last week was an absolute treat, especially as tracks like You Want Romance and 10 Scene Points to the Winner are some of the heaviest songs that they have in their back catalogue. I wish I could accurately convey through this article how being able to see your favourite band perform tracks that (most of which) haven’t seen the light of day for almost a decade and then the people around you singing these lyrics back to them felt, especially coupled with frequent inspirational messages and speeches from vocalist Matt Davies-Kreye concerning the mindfuck of British politics, identity, and the music scene.
As the end of the show drew near and the curfew creeped closer, the band left us with two other songs; History and Roses for the Dead, arguably some of the most emotional, personal, and expressive songs that they’d ever written, from their second album Hours. I wanted that show to last forever, but as the entire audience sang the lyrics of History back to Matt, and went absolutely mental to the crushing heaviness of Roses for the Dead’s outro, I realised that this chapter of the members’ history had closed, leaving behind a feeling of saddening nostalgia, but overshadowed by the unbridled joy and feeling of community as a result of being able to be part of something so, so incredibly special. We’ll miss you, Funeral for a Friend, and thank you for being such a significant part of all of our lives, in one way or another.
Your history is ours.
Tonight, Funeral for a Friend enraptured us with some of their finest ever songs, allowing everyone to recapture the magic of Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation. A night of emotion, passion, and pure brilliance.