Funeral for a Friend’s venues have been getting steadily smaller in recent years. Memory and Humanity (2008), Welcome Home Armageddon (2011) and Conduit (2013) haven’t managed to reach as many people as Hours. Tales Don’t Tell Themselves is an anomaly- the success of that tour can be put down partially to it being released only 2 years after the much more popular predecessor from 2005. It’s this predecessor that is the basis for this current tour, promising to play the album in its entirety. Nine years seems an odd anniversary to celebrate so it’s probably safe to assume there’ s a new album coming out soon that 2015 will be dedicated to.
Nothing to promote means there’s a refreshing air to the whole affair. Jumping straight into All the Rage, followed by 40+ minutes of everybody on the same page. Just gone to hear some music? Well, you’re also going to get a little history lesson before the lesser known/played offerings from the album, so going means you can sound like an expert if anyone ever asks what a song is about. With few exceptions, the whole setlist was decidedly “old school”, making this more of a long term fan’s dream than a promotional tool.
Singer Matt Davies doesn’t tend to hold the crowd in the palm of his hand, he’s more one for staying on the same level as his audience. While the band may be the ones on stage, they never seem as though they are better than everyone else. If something is shouted loudly and coherently enough, it will get a response. Smaller venues allow for a level of intimacy that the kind of acts filling First Direct arena have to live without.
With a full album comes live rarities. Both Hospitality and Sonny were given their 3rd outing as Leeds was the 3rd stop. Hospitality may be rewarded with more public outings, a song the band clearly enjoyed performing and was certainly well-received. Sonny is less likely to enjoy the same fate, included purely because it had to be rather than anyone having a desire to hear it. What people did have a desire to hear was the new song that was gifted as a reward for loyalty to the band and also a chance for them to test how well it would be received (quite well, by the way).
The line up has changed since 2005, only 2 members that recorded the album (Matt Davies-Kreye and guitarist Kris Coombes-Roberts) remain. Luckily, the 3 newer additions click into place and a first time listener would have no trouble believing they were partly responsible for the tracks, though it isn’t the first time they’ve all played together so there has been time to practice.
All that said, there didn’t seem to be as much energy as has been thrown into previous performances. Underneath the love for what they do was a very faint sense of duty to play some songs, rather than for the sheer joy of it.
It’s unlikely another tour like this will happen from this band again, Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation passed its 10th anniversary with little fanfare and nothing since has evoked the same kind of response.