When Funeral For A Friend dropped their first album, Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation, back in 2003, they were considered to be the leading light in British rock music for the new millennium. 12 years, and 7 studio albums, later they played the Institute in Birmingham to celebrate the release of their latest effort, Chapter and Verse.
Opening the show was up and coming pop punkers Creeper [7/10], from Southampton. With only one EP under their belt, the band brought a version of dramatic punk that was reminiscent of early My Chemical Romance as well as Alkaline Trio. With such a high quality EP, it was fascinating to see them grow as a live band as the set progressed. Despite playing to a large audience, most of which had never heard them before, Creeper played a fantastic set and surely won some new fans by the end of it. While it is still early days for them, they have the ability to be huge in the next few years.
Next up were California hardcore bros No Bragging Rights [7/10]. Having previously seen them on the Impericon Tour last fall, we already knew more or less what to expect from them. Their set was heavy on songs from their latest album The Concrete Flower (2014). Despite the band’s tough musical style, they shared positive messages with the audience between songs. Unfortunately, the sound mix was quite poor for their set, but that was more to the venue’s fault.
Funeral For A Friend [8/10] are in a position that many bands find themselves in after being together for over a decade: the success they had early in their career now dictates a majority of their setlist and can negatively impact the band’s growth. However when Funeral hit the stage, they proved that they are not yet another one of the nostalgia acts that seems to have infiltrated the rock music circuit in recent years. Opening with their latest single, ‘Pencil Pusher,’ quickly followed by ‘High Castles’ off of 2013’s Conduit, Funeral For A Friend demonstrated that creatively they are at all time high. However the biggest cheers and sing-alongs were reserved for songs off their earlier work with the likes of ‘Streetcar’ and ‘Juneau’ causing anarchy in the moshpits. However, the new tracks sounded great live and the band obviously enjoying playing them. But, with the album being released a few days after the show, the majority of the crowd was unfamiliar with the new songs. While there were some people ready to have a good time to whatever was being played, a large chunk of the crowd appeared sadly apathetic towards the idea that the band had released any new work since 2005. While there were positive vibes for the material played from the latest album, it was clear most people were there for the mid-00s classics. Funeral delivered these tracks with an assured confidence and swagger of a band who knew the large emotional sentiment that those tracks, and the band as a whole, have for British rock fans of a certain age. They closed the night with ‘History’ and ‘Roses For The Dead’, reminding the audience just how good Funeral For A Friend still are as a live band. Though the band has evolved creatively over their career, and alienated some of their fans in the process, their best years are not over just yet.