Friday, 16 October 2009

Funeral For A Friend - Hatfield Herts University Forum - 15th October 2009

Funeral For A Friend are one of those bands whose reputation is built more on live performance than on the quality of their studio albums and quite rightly so, for they are a formidable live act as anyone who has seen them will testify. The audience facing them tonight is mostly comprised of local students and it is apparent that many probably are not particularly big fans of the band but are just here to sample this new local venue (which only officially opened six days earlier with a performance from Mancunian indie rockers Doves). The venue itself is actually very nice, prompting singer Matt Davies to proclaim it "well lush", if lacking the atmosphere that only a number of spilt pints on the floor can give it over the next few years. It is not full though by any stretch of the imagination, which may be a little disappointing for a band that has previously played venues as large as Cardiff's International Arena.

The welsh quintet take to the stage with Davies miming along to some generic cheesy pop song ,that I probably should know but do not, before ripping straight into the jilted lover anthem that is 'Streetcar'. This is followed quickly by a succession of hits, for the band is promoting a greatest hits compilation with the current tour, including new single 'Wrench' and fan favourites 'Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings' and 'All The Rage'. Matt Davies occasionally engages in a bit of light hearted banter with the crowd, oddly focused on kung-fu tonight, but the rest of the band remain quiet and focused. Bassist Gavin Burrough has settled into the band well since joining just over a year ago while guitar team Kris Coombs-Roberts and Darran Smith are as impressive in their riffing as ever. Meanwhile drummer Ryan Richards is solid if not spectacular in either his actual drumming or his occasional bouts of screamed vocals. The band are involved in something of an upward struggle however as the show as a whole, no matter how good the performance, lacks any real atmosphere while the sound has overdriven the treble to such an extent that the bass is nearly inaudible.

Essentially for fans of the band this is a fun show, especially the mass singalongs to 'Into Oblivion (Reunion)' and 'Juneau' that round off the evening, but for everyone else it's not the most memorable of gigs. To say it wasn't good would be a lie but it could have been better.


Funeral For A Friend Setlist (roughly):
She Drove Me To Daytime Television
Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings
This Year's Most Open Heartbreak
All The Rage
Honour Amongst Theives
Bullet Theory
Red Is The New Black
Roses For The Dead
Built To Last
Rookie Of The Year
Escape Artists Never Die
Captains Of Industry
Into Oblivion (Reunion)
The Art Of American Football

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