Funeral For A Friend @ O2 Ritz - Live Review
David Bamford reviews FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND with support from SHAI HULUD and ZOAX at the O2 Ritz, Manchester on 9th April
I’ve got thirty minutes to scare the shit out of you and make you my best friend.
So says Adam Carroll of London-based quintet Zoax. And my God, does he ever. Bursting out onstage with a sound best placed somewhere between 36 Crazyfists and Being As An Ocean, Zoax are here to stay and they are not afraid of you. During the band’s half-hour set, Carroll steals a crowd member’s hat, hugs a security guard, takes a selfie with a fan and gets someone in the audience to buy him a pint of Guinness - all while singing and screaming seamlessly through song after song. This band’s boundless energy coupled with Adam Carroll’s enigmatic persona and dry but warm humour set Zoax apart, and if they continue with this balls-out, unapologetic, in-your-face-and-you’d-better-like-it attitude, they’re set to be the next big thing in British metal. Their debut album drops on May 13th, don’t miss it - and if they’re in your town, buy these blokes a beer.
Shai Hulud are stalwarts of the American hardcore scene, but despite having been around since 1995 they’ve remained fairly under the radar on this side of the Atlantic. That said, they really deserve your attention. Think Cruel Hand meets Blacklisted. They blister through track upon track with seeming ease, they’re at home on the stage and they know how to get a crowd pumped. If there is one band you’ve never heard of which you really should have, it’s Shai Hulud.
Check. Them. Out.
And so, to the stars of our show, a band which needs no introduction and to which real fans will never say goodbye. It’s hard to believe the Bridgend five-piece has only been around since 2001; their subject matter spans decades and continents and their themes - love, heartbreak, politics and death - are universal. As this is their farewell tour, this show is something special. Last night, Funeral For A Friend played their amazing album Hours in full, but tonight, to see them home, it’s the turn of their seminal, life-changing record Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation.
Beginning with a wry smile and a brief mention of the album title, Matt Davies launches himself into opener Rookie Of The Year - and the entire crowd sings it back, word for word, in one voice. It’s only after blazing through the next two tracks, Bullet Theory and crowd favourite Juneau, that Davies slows down enough to talk about the band, the creative process behind the record, the reason why they’re ending it all this way.
The crowd, however, eats it up. There is nothing but love for these guys in this room, and as the album plays out, it’s clear that Davies and his bandmates are overwhelmed by the love, respect and admiration they have garnered as a band these last fifteen years. Matt uses the album as a platform to talk about the current economic ‘revolution’, about politics, about domestic violence, and ultimately, about where the future of live music is headed.
As their encore comes to a close with Roses For The Dead, Davies takes a moment to sincerely thank the crowd for turning out. Funeral For A Friend is over, he says, and this is the last song we will ever play in Manchester - and that’s all we ever wanted - was for people to give a shit about this band. And as the last note fades and the crowd roars approval, it finally becomes too much and tears spill down Matt Davies’ face. It is a strangely beautiful moment. For someone to put so much of themselves into a band, and to have that effort rewarded by a sold-out room full of strangers who just want to hear their voice one last time… I cannot imagine a more perfect ending to this band’s career. They will be sorely missed.
‘Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation’
Rookie Of The Year
Juneau (feat. Adam Carroll of Zoax)
Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings
Escape Artists Never Die
Moments Forever Faded
She Drove Me To Daytime Television
Red Is The New Black
Your Revolution Is A Joke
This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak
Kiss And Make Up (All Bets Are Off)
10 Scene Points To The Winner
You Want Romance?
10:45 Amsterdam Conversations
The Art of American Football
Roses For The Dead
Words: David Bamford / Photos: Lucy Lamb