There’s something in the air at the Kentish Town Forum. After 15 years, Funeral For A Friend are calling it quits. And tonight is their penultimate show.
The Last Chance To Dance tour sees them play their first two albums in full in each city. Tonight we’re treated to their sophomore LP, Hours. Released 11 years ago, the album took the band into the Top 20 and was cited, along with their debut, Casually Dressed, as a seminal record in the burgeoning emo and post-hardcore scene of the early noughties.
The emotion is palpable as FFAF receive a standing ovation before a chord's been struck. "You might have been expecting a bombastic intro", frontman Matt bellows. "But that's not what tonight's about."
After launching into album opener 'All The Rage' it's not long until we're treated to a hit - 'Streetcar' brings out the smartphones and the strained vocal chords.
The frenetic pace slows with 'Movie', inspired by iconic 70s flick Badlands. "This could be our final act", sings Matt - the curtain's not quite closed, but the feeling of closure is certainly prominent. Being from Bridgend, Wales, less than 20 miles away from the industrial heartland of Port Talbot and its steelworks, FFAF have always championed the working class. The band has maintained an industrial grit and true purpose and during their penultimate show I’m left wondering who will fill their shoes. As the steelworks and its employees fight for their futures, it feels like FFAF have unfinished business.
The album’s third single, History, typifies their industrial roots. The track’s video depicts a fight between striking miners and police in South Wales, but tonight there’s no conflict. "This song, at its heart ,is about people standing up for what's right." There’s a sea of hands as Matt sings “archers in your arches, raise your fingers for one last salute”.
For Hours at least, this really is the last salute. The album nears its close with 'Alvarez' - a track that champions sexual equality. Matt concedes that talking about politics of any kind can be difficult, but the thought that people can be discriminated against for the people that they love is unthinkable. Emo isn't just eyeliner and hair straighteners, you know.
At 43 minutes, Hours is hardly an epic affair. But that doesn't matter as the crowd is treated to a series of B-sides and classics like ''Juneau'', and even the notorious 'Into Oblivion', from the commercially successful but criticised Tales Don't Tell Themselves. "This is a song we said we'd never play again", says Matt. "But there's nothing but a good breakup to make you play songs you think your fans will dig". The boys know how to have fun with themselves.
Tonight we don’t mourn at a funeral for a friend – we celebrate them. But, boy, will we miss them.