LIVE: Funeral For A Friend @ Electric Brixton, London

By Alex Sarychkin

In July 2020, when Funeral for a Friend announced a UK tour playing songs from across their iconic catalogue, everything was starting to look bright and cheery. Lockdown restrictions were softening, holidays were on the cards and people gathered in back gardens as the sun came out. The proposed dates of April 2021 couldn’t come quick enough and fans of the band flocked to book tickets. The London date sold out in seconds and another date was added. Calendars were marked in pen – confidence at a height not seen in months over a painful and at times rather dark lockdown.

It does not bear to dwell on what came next but April 2021 came and went and no glorious sounds spilled out of guitar amps. A new date in January was announced. Calendars were hastily crossed out and new marks made – this time in pencil. 

The chaos of postponed shows will be familiar to anybody with a passing interest in live music. When the doors of Electric Brixton finally open to a ravenous crowd on a windy Saturday night in March 2022 – 20 months since the original announcement – there is a palpable sense of excitement. As the lights dim and the band appears on stage, the terror of the past two years disappear and what follows is two hours of perfection. Perhaps the extra time has provided the chance for more diligent practice, for more time together to recapture the rhythms of old. Whatever it was, it’s worked.

‘All the Rage’, from 2005’s ‘Hours’, opens a set also spanning 2003’s ‘Casually Dressed’ and ‘Deep in Conversation’ as well as 2007’s ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’. It’s one for the fans that grew up with the band being inescapable. As the opener belts to a finish, it’s straight into ‘Juneau’, typically expected as a set closer, its place this early in the set is a clear indication that the band are confident in keeping the crowd’s attention. Bodies fly in every direction, the pent up anticipation reaching boiling point during ‘Streetcar’. Limbs combined, bodies blend into a large mass, heads crashed to the floor. This is a gig debauchery for those at the front – but what else could be expected when so many of those at the show thought this day might never come?

A brief moment of respite for those in among the chaos comes with the pivot to some of the more recent Funeral for a Friend songs, which despite their power, just don’t cut through quite as perfectly as ‘Rookie of the Year’ or ‘Monsters’. The band know their audience – they know what people come to see and experience. The mantra is clear: Give The Kids What They Want. No more dicking around with deep cuts (although a run through ‘The Art of American Football’ wouldn’t have gone amiss). 

When you’ve waited this long for something, it’s always going to pass in an instant. By the time the opening chords of the emotional ‘History’ play out, the crowd is spent – but there’s always a touch more energy for a final big chorus. It’s a moment of beautiful unity and a reminder of just how much people missed this when we couldn’t do it. I hope the next time the band announce a tour they don’t have to wait so long to get it off the ground.