Funeral For A Friend at Shepherds Bush Empire, London – 29.10.19
It feels like being in another country tonight
We’re in the heart of London and yet inside the venue and the bars around Shepherds Bush it feels like we’re in the midst of Wales. Those welsh accents floating in the breeze
Wales is here for a brief return of its nearest and dearest with Funeral For A Friend. After splitting in 2016 they’ve reunited for 3 shows to raise money for the family of superfan Big Stu who sadly passed away ago after battling a terminal illness. The fundraising efforts tonight are for his 3 sons. You wished they’d reformed under different circumstances, but the excitement in the air for hours before the show is electric. Fans chatting to strangers about the very first time they saw Funeral and the last show they saw.
After storming sets from Those Damn Crows and Raiders (the new band from Sean and James of The Blackout) and a classics playlist including Bohemian Rhapsody, Delilah and The Boys Are Back in town, FFAF hit the stage and play the greatest set of their entire career
Focusing on the early period and undoubtedly their finest material they take us on 18 song set from screamo to arms in the air anthemic rock. Each lyric hitting is straight in the heart as we passionate scream every word. FFAF are one of those bands. A band that means something. A band that stands for something. A band where the lyrics can be straight up in one song and hard to scan in the next, but of which the emotion just impacts you. There’s joy and there tears. There’s hope and sadness. There’s something we’ve missed for so long that 3 years has felt like a life time
We’re down in the pit, but Shepherds Bush at times is grander than a pit. Matt describing the venue as rock & roll gateaux (vegan of course) as he looks up on 4 floors of hardcore fans.
With nearly half the set coming from Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation we get to embrace the glory of “She Drove Me to Daytime Television”, “Red Is The New Black”, “Juneau” and “Escape Artists Never Die”. The one tender moment of that album being “Your Revolution Is a Joke” which tonight as it’s been played so many times is just acoustic guitar and vocals with a the crowd providing a choir.
FFAF were never conventional, but the tracks from “Hours” such as “Streetcar”, “Roses for the Dead” and “The End Of Nothing” signal the moment where FFAF really reached a larger audience. “Into Oblivion (Reunion)” with it’s stirring string section and arms in the air is truly magical
It all goes too quick of course and as we reach the last number we know that’s it
“History” with those words sung out loud
“Archers in your arches
Raise your fingers for one last salute
And i’ll bleed this skyline dry
Your history is mine”
When the band put their instruments down and embrace, obviously tearful that it again is the moment Funeral For A Friend say goodbye and give the crowd one last salute, the crowd spontaneously burst into song with those lyric reverberating around the venue
It perhaps the perfect Funeral For A Friend gig and for that reason we’re conflicted by emotion – we want more, but how can they ever match this moment