People wouldn’t usually associate me with metal or screamo bands. But I was a huge fan of Funeral For a Friend when they released their debut album back in 2003, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them in a local venue.
The ticket had been pinned to my noticeboard for weeks prior to the gig, my favoured tracks playing on loop so that I’d be able to sing along with confidence. I was excited. More excited than I’ve been for an out-of-town band in a long time. Fact is, Funeral For a Friend take me back to my teenage years, spent hanging around either side of the Welsh border in the time before I knew there was anything above the River Humber (it does hurt a little to admit that I was once part of this southern stereotype). And as the gig was on the eve of my birthday, this was a glorious feeling of recaptured youth.
The night started with punk-rock band Less Deceived. My first encounter with these guys; I was quickly swept up by their sound. Lead singer Adam Harraway stormed the stage, smiles a-plenty as they performed songs which create a lot of sound and contain catchy bridges even new fans can sing along to. It was good to see a band who so evidently love performing – a theme which flowed throughout the evening – and I quickly made the decision to get my hands on their music and merchandise.
I’ve had their track ‘20.04.13’ playing repeatedly since, now able to sing along to every word.
Liberatae Mae were up next. It was proposed, via social media, that the public select the support band, and this band’s name came up in droves. It is a name I’d heard of, one which is often mentioned when discussing the local metal scene. They’ve got a sizable following, and one which helped fill Welly that evening.
With six members, they fill a stage, even a decent sized one as they had, in body and in sound. Vocalist Luke Slade and bassist Glenn Allison stepped to the front where they could easily engage with the audience, gripping the crowd with their ferocious performance and heavy vocals. The guitarists seemed to move in
circles, each taking their moment alongside these two clear frontmen: an act I felt deserving of these talented musicians, but also solidifying my compassion for the drummers who don’t benefit from this privilege. Eddie Newsome was barely visible even to those like myself stood at the very edge of the stage, and his personal performance was one worth seeing.
I didn’t, at the end of the gig, rush to their merchandise table. They were fantastic at performing for their fans in their chosen genre, but this is not a sound which excites me. I wouldn’t choose to attend a gig just simply because their name was listed.
It was headliners Funeral For a Friend whose performance I was most enthusiastic about. Theirs was the only name listed when I’d purchased my ticket, and the name which had me in anticipation right up until the point they were on stage.
Playing popular tracks from across their albums, the room was in constant movement. Rather frustratingly for those of us on the front row, a few members of the audience chose later in their set to start crowd surfing. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with people crowd surfing, but the same guy doing it four or five times and having to move in order to let him out got repetitive and dull. Having worked as a security officer at music venues and festivals, I know how difficult it can be to keep your cool with drunken guys trying to get their 15 seconds of fame. The staff working that night were fantastic, manoeuvring them out of the way of photographers.
Matt Davies-Kreye did, even with these distractions, take on a central role in the show. Not just as frontman of the band, but as a conductor of the night. He informed us that he was suffering with a chest infection – something which was clearly causing him pain, as he crouched down for gulps of water, banging his fist on his chest, between songs – but that this would not stop him from giving us his all. With a grin, he gave the hand gesture to start a circle pit, twisting with those of the audience who chose to join in. Within the final song, he was leaping across the stage.
Indeed all members of the band performed in the most joyful manner, expressing their pleasure throughout. Smiling, chatting with the crowd and each other, they moved around the stage. There were clear concerns about Matt’s health, with looks into the wings of the stage. For one song they were joined by a friend touring with them (possibly their stage manager; certainly someone who knew all the lyrics), joining in the frivolity and adding his own sound to the stage. In conclusion to their set, the guitarists circled Matt, demonstrating the tight-knit unit that they are.
It was a gig I wouldn’t have missed. It brought a bit of home to Hull; nostalgic moments captured as I enjoyed their older, classic tracks.
In addition to rooting in me a passion for another fantastic Hull band – I can’t love them all, but there’s always room for a couple more.
Feature image by Paul Newbon.
All other images are my own.