Live Review: Funeral For A Friend, Roadmender

Pictures by David Jackson
Pictures by David Jackson

Funeral For A Friend rounded off the first leg of their UK tour in support of their new album Chapter & Verse at the Roadmender on Saturday night.

The Welsh rockers celebrate a decade and a half together this year, during which they have regularly headed to Northampton to headline to venue.

Among the last bastions of the British hardcore scene that exploded at the turn of the century, FFAF have pretty much done it all. Released a debut now regarded as a classic, chased FM radio success, adorned magazine covers and played shows in front of thousands.

However, on recent albums they’ve returned to a sound they’re happier with – heavier, rawer and more akin with their influences.

Unsurprisingly, a fair chunk of their 15 song set was from their latest album, with a smattering of hits from their back catalogue to keep the front third of the Roadmender crowd happy.

There’s no artificial thrills to FFAF’s show, simply five friends tearing through song after song of hardcore influenced rock with melodic hooks while baseball cap wearing frontman Matt Davies-Kreye prowled around the stage, mic in hand.

FFAF opened with new track Pencil Pusher before heading into the excellent High Castles from 2013’s LP Conduit.

Streetcar from 2005’s album Hours was the first of the bigger ‘hits’ to whip up fans into a moshing frenzy, while also brining a more melodic edge to proceedings.

Davies-Kreye was on chatty form all night, acknowledging how lucky the band has been to play across the world and thanking fans for sticking with them.

On occasions, signs of a month spent on the road were evident with his voice straining and struggling to keep up with his band mates.

During an impassioned speech about the forthcoming general election, Davies-Kreye hit out a fans who booed when he raised the topic, saying, “We have the opportunity to make a difference, the major parties act like kids in a playground,” before adding his view on immigration, saying, “The UK’s strength is in our cultural diversity. We should stand with our arms open not shut.”

Juneau, from FFAF’s lauded classic Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation was another trip back to the band’s early days and lapped up by the Roadmender crowd.

They rounded off their set with History and Roses For The Dead – the former which Davies-Kreye explained was about growing up in south Wales and the impact the Thatcher led Conservative government had on his family and the community.

A decade and a half into their career, FFAF seem happier than ever.

While they’ve shuffled around rock sub-genres and seen band members come and go, they genuinely seem content in the music they’re writing and the gigs they’re playing and it shines through when seeing them live.

Unsurprisingly, after a month off, FFAF are back on the road and back in these parts in July for a gig in Milton Keynes.

Funeral For A Friend played:

Pencil Pusher

High Castles

The Distance

Streetcar

You’ve Got a Bad Case of the Religions

Bend Your Arms to Look Like Wings

Storytelling

1%

Front Row Seats to the End of the World

Old Hymns

Recovery

Juneau

The Jade Tree Years Were My Best

History

Roses for the Dead