Twelve years is a long time. A twelve-year-old child would be starting secondary school, discovering the other sex were perhaps not solely cootie-carriers, and feeling those first pangs of puberty. As Funeral For A Friend celebrate a dozen years together, they open their tour with a hometown show in the cavernous confines of the Great Hall 2 (the ‘2’ seems only to consist of a curtain across the middle of the regular Great Hall, creating an oddly L-shaped space). After over a decade of inspiring youngsters the world over, tonight FFAF celebrate their career so far by harking back to their first two EPs; an act endearingly free of pretension, particularly in a scene so often plagued by bands ‘forgetting their roots’.
Declaring Funeral For A Friend one of their favourite bands of all time, openers Moose Blood’s poppy emo channels Brand New at their most anecdotally honest, to great effect. Clearly overwhelmed at their heroes’ request to join them on tour, the four-piece channel this elation into half an hour of perfectly executed melody and melancholy.
By contrast, Polar’s noisy hardcore seems wholly one-dimensional. Coupled with a sulky attitude towards the crowd’s lethargy, their set begins to drag long before they decide to throw bottles of water at unsuspecting bystanders.
Gnarwolves are quite clearly having a whale of a time. With three rapturously received EPs and a position as scene stars firmly tucked under their shoe-string belts, this tour is sure to be a lap of honour for them as much as for Funeral. Teasing at yet more new material, the band plough through a set of punk rock sing-alongs with as much energy as ever. However, Gnarwolves’ set is sadly let down by the lop-sidedness of the Great Hall 2, and its awkwardly spread crowd. The Union would do well to return to moving the stage to the adjoining wall – as in the early days of the Great Hall 2 – in order to create a space in which a tangible crowd can really form.
Taking to the stage without a backing track, or even so much as a smoke machine, Funeral For A Friend leave all charade behind tonight. Returning to their native land, Funeral offer a homecoming party like no other – complete with an oddly timed, pit-based execution of The Worm. With debut EPs ‘Four Ways To Scream Your Name’ and ‘Between Order & Model’ bookending the set, it’s 90 minutes of pure nostalgia, for those both on and off the stage. In between these EPs, the band reach back into their illustrious career to form a set that not only rewards the devoted with the classics (Escape Artists Never Die will always be the perfect set closer), but showcases a promising look to the next twelve years, with the shadows of their ill-fated ‘experimental’ albums now safely eradicated. While they’ll always be local boys at heart, tonight Funeral For A Friend proved that they’re once again ready to take on the world.