Live Review

Funeral For A Friend, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow

The band’s comeback symbolises something of a rebirth.

Photo Credit: Martin Renwick.

‘Sixteen’. The title of Funeral For A Friend’s new single, and the age I feel as I stand sandwiched between two tattooed heavies in King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, gawping at the band who saw me through my angst-ridden teenage years. I jumped on my bed to their tunes, scrawled their lyrics all over my homework diary, and queued up to see them play in huge venues. Now here I am, inches from their feet and trying to pretend that I’ve grown up in the five years since I saw them last.

Acting cool and aloof seems to be the order of the night: most of the audience, though dedicatedly crammed into a tiny venue at full capacity, are content to nod their heads and tap their feet in a very civilised fashion while, in stark contrast, frontman Matthew Davies-Kreye pogo-jumps on and off the stage clad in low-slung skater shorts and a baseball cap. His childlike excitement and joke-a-minute stage banter has the crowd laughing heartily: he pretends to mishear a member of the audience’s name as ‘Anal Beads’, asking, ‘Is Anal the first name?’ To which the quick-witted victim retorted, ‘IT”S A HYPHEN!’ His silliness is infectious, but it doesn’t cause an all-out lapse into flapdoodle (*alert* I found this word in the thesaurus - it means ‘nonsense’, and it is too good to waste).

I begin to ponder whether the audience may have outgrown the band. Despite several attempts by Matthew to rile the crowd into a frenzy, the pitiful mosh pit in the centre of the room consists of a few pre-teens and one older (let’s be honest, too old) guy who is so inebriated that he keeps falling to the floor and has to be helped up by his fellow moshers. Not exactly hardcore. Occasionally I get a knock from a stumbling fan and my drink teeters over the edge of the pint glass, but it’s nothing compared to the old days of cider-soaked hair and sweat-soaked clothes.

The somewhat restrained atmosphere temporarily melts away when the band revert to the classics: the audience are hungry for old material, and the band seem happy to give it to them. They kick off a lengthy set with ‘Roses For The Dead’, and punctuate it with crowd-pleasing favourites including ‘Juneau’, ‘Rookie Of The Year’, ‘Escape Artists Never Die’ and ‘History’. Each receives a roar of appreciation and is accompanied by a deafening sing-along effort. The fans may be older, but they’ll never forget those timeless lyrics. The first song of the encore, ‘Into Oblivion’, prompts a roof-raising reaction; the ground bounces underfoot as a hundred pairs of Converse jump along to the powerful drum beat.

I had wondered whether Funeral For A Friend would resort to reminiscing to win back their fans alienated by the last album, but I needn’t have worried. The gig does not rely on the old songs to make it a spectacle; they merely add a wonderful sense of nostalgia to an otherwise brilliant set - the kind that makes you involuntarily smile from ear to ear. Meanwhile, the new songs are delivered with precision and get a fantastic reception, particularly ‘Sixteen’, ‘Aftertaste’ and ‘Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don’t’.

As a true fan, it’s painful for me to admit that I believed the critics when they said Funeral For A Friend had lost it. If that was the truth then I’m happy to confirm, after witnessing this performance, that they’ve found it again. Far from hammering the nail into their coffin, the band’s comeback symbolises something of a rebirth. The transition to a new line-up works seamlessly well, and new fans will hopefully join the ranks of already dedicated followers. Those pre-teens in the pit are promising: maybe they can inject a bit of life into this tired crowd (though, to be fair, it’s a Sunday, and the venue only allows for limited movement). The important thing is that we need not mourn the death of our favourite emo band. Funeral For A Friend are alive and kicking, breathing renewed life into our eternally young-at-heart souls.

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