Review by Rachel Sloper
What was particularly striking as the crowd filed into the venue was not tonight’s line-up, but the venue itself. The twelve-year-strong Welsh rock band would not be playing to the packed-out main stage of the O2 Academy, but ‘The Scholar’, the smallest stage that the Leicester Student Union venue has to offer.
The size of the venue was not a disappointment for fans of Funeral for a Friend, in fact, far from it. The intimacy of the venue allowed the band’s devotees to come up-close and personal with their idols.
Those with a keen eye would also have spotted frontman Matt Davies gracing the merch table, greeting and chatting to fans. This is a band with time for the people that helped put them where they are today, tonight was a great testament to that.
Polar warmed up the crowd with an energetic set, having recently gained the sponsorship of Drop Dead Clothing, this is a band to watch out for. Already commanding a significant following on this tour, their brand of hard-core rock fired up the crowd, even starting a wall of death before leaving the stage to make way for tonight’s headliners.
Funeral for a Friend took the stage, greeting a hysterical crowd. They kicked off the set with their latest album’s title track, ‘Conduit’. The Welsh rock veterans controlled the crowd with a practised precision. After a swift showcasing of some highlights from Conduit, the band quickly took the audience back to 2005. Playing popular single ‘Roses for the dead,’ lifted from their second album, Hours, lit a fire under the crowd and really got them moving.
Matt Davies, ever mindful of the safety of his fans, often reminded them to take a step back and “Let each other breathe”. He announced the “ground rules” for the evening. The crowd must begin circle pits and ‘walls of fun’ (“We don’t want death, death is bad!”) at his command.
Twelve years on, Funeral for a Friend do not forget where they came from, playing a set list which boasted a host of tracks from the depths of their back catalogue. Davies also showed his appreciation for all members of the band’s crew. Davies raised applause for their merchandise table staff, introducing him to the audience and announcing that the band would be taking him out for his birthday that night.
Davies is a passionate frontman. He spent the majority of the set stood on the barrier, leaning into the audience as he sang directly to individuals. The definite highlight of the set was the blaze of glory the band left the stage in. The closing tracks to the set list were popular singles from their debut album, Casually Dressed & Deep in Conversation, which is still described as a definitive soundtrack to many of their fans’ teenage years.
Following stunning performances of ‘Juneau’ and ‘Escape Artists Never Die’, Funeral for a Friend left the crowd on a high, chanting for more- to no avail.
Conduit, The Distance, Roses for the Dead, Recovery, Travelled, You Want Romance?, The End of Nothing, Grey, Damned If You Do/Dead If You Don’t, High Castles, Broken Foundation, Alvarez, Juneau, Escape Artists Never Die.