Funeral For A Friend @ Limelight 2, Belfast – Wednesday January 23rd 2013

Welsh metalcore heroes Funeral For A Friend have very much returned to their roots with their sixth album, ‘Conduit’, which, as we noted in our recent review – – is a lot more grounded in the 1990s hardcore sound that characterized their first couple of releases.  This approach also has been reflected in the band’s current, very extensive, UK and Ireland tour, which sees them playing small, relatively intimate clubs as opposed to the larger venues which fans maybe have been more used to see them performing in until now – and which kicked off with this show in Belfast’s longest-standing and most famous rock venue.

Major LeagueOpening proceedings, both tonight and for the remainder of the tour (see dates below), New Jersey pop punks Major League prove that they are a very long way away from that kind of status:  they certainly are boisterous and enthusiastic, although the latter soon wanes in the face of the completely apathetic response from those assembled in front of the stage, but they are ultimately unfulfilling.

Such GoldSuch Gold are edgier and punkier, and show more confidence, but also fail to excite the slowly growing crowd.  Their sound is very much rooted in the punk/hardcore tradition of their native New York, but their lack of stage presence, the atrocious lighting and a lack of that vital spark of originality all make for another ‘so what?’ response.

The reaction – or lack of it – to the first two acts makes it very clear that the audience is here for one band and one band only… and the crowd’s patient endurance of what has gone before is rewarded by a performance that is head and shoulders above what has preceded it.

Funeral For A FriendDespite the brevity of their set – I clocked it at just shy of 56 minutes – FFAF deliver an intense and impressive set, which has the place finally dancing – and singing along to every word – virtually within seconds of them taking the stage.

Vocalist Matthew Davies-Kreye, who, as I’ve remarked before, concentrates on singing rather than the screaming that many of his genre contemporaries seem content to resort to, and is an affable and likeable front man – although he does have a tendency to talk too much between songs!  The most impressive performance is that of new drummer Pat Lundy (formerly of Rise To Remain), whose performance behind the kit is exemplary – hard-hitting but also under-stated – and his rapport with bassist Richard Boucher is enjoyable.

Not afraid to surprise their audiences, FFAF play only two tracks from the new album, seeming more content to rattle through a set of crowd-pleasers – and also finishing with the surprisingly downbeat but effective ‘History’.

‘Conduit’ is released on Monday (January 28th) via Distiller Records.  The second single from the album, ‘The Distance’, is released on February 11th.

Funeral For A Friend’s UK tour continues as follows:

Monday 28 January – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
Tuesday 29 January – Bristol The Fleece
Wednesday 30 January – Plymouth White Rabbit
Thursday 31 January – Exeter Cavern
Saturday 2 February – Bournemouth Sound Circus
Sunday 3 February – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
FFAF Tour PosterMonday 4 February – Brighton The Haunt
Wednesday 6 February – Margate Westcoast Bar
Thursday 7 February – Cambridge The Junction
Friday 8 February – Norwich Waterfront
Saturday 9 February – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Monday 11 February – York The Duchess
Tuesday 12 February – Leeds Cockpit
Wednesday 13 February – Glasgow King Tuts
Thursday 14 February – Newcastle Uni. SU
Saturday 16 February – Manchester NQ Live
Sunday 17 February – Stoke Sugarmill
Monday 18 February – London Garage
Tuesday 19 February – Birmingham Asylum
Friday 1 March – Colchester Arts Centre (with Marmozets)
Saturday 2 March – Northampton Roadmender (with Marmozets)
Sun 3 March – Oxford Academy 2 (with Marmozets)
Friday 5 April – Southend Chinnerys (with Polar)
Thursday 18 April – Leicester Academy 2 (with Polar)
Friday 19 April – Hull The Welly (with Polar)
Saturday 20 April – Wakefield Warehouse (with Polar)
Sun 21 April – Preston 53 Degrees (with Polar)

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