When Funeral For A Friend announced their Last Chance To Dance farewell tour, tickets for the final ever show at the O2 Forum Kentish Town were like gold dust.
Tonight FFAF play 2003’s debut album Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation in full, accompanied by a final flourish of the biggest and earliest hits of their 15-year career.
FFAF’s legacy is undeniable. Today they call it ‘whatever-core’ but back in the early noughties, it was British emo and post-hardcore at its very best. And while it’s taken them some four months to complete an extensive farewell tour, their influence will live on far beyond tonight’s curtain call.
It’s an impact that’s clearly imprinted on tonight’s support bands. Zoax and Creeper are indebted to FFAF in equal measure; from the early tour opportunities, backstage encouragement and exchanging of tour tips that’s helped both young bands grow belief in their own abilities. Zoax singer Adam Carroll even lives out his childhood dream as he accompanies Funeral during Juneau.
“Tonight isn’t about our band,” says Creeper frontman Will Gould, “We’re here for Funeral For A Friend.” And with both bands retelling personal anecdotes of FFAF, they deliver toned-down sets that settle the nerves somewhat for tonight’s emotional headliners.
You could talk endlessly about FFAF’s journey in the British emo scene – some of which frontman Matt Davies does in between songs tonight. From stories about the first time he met guitarist Kris Coombs-Roberts, to more recent road tales from the weeks just prior to this show, the crowd hang on each sentiment with a heavy sense of shared pride.
Funeral’s final set begins much as planned, with each track off Casually Dressed met with cheers of almost-disbelief as the landmark record flows with passion from start to finish.
She Drove Me To Daytime Television and Red Is The New Black up the heartfelt stakes, and if things weren’t emotional enough by the time Novella chimes out, original members Darren Smith and Ryan Richards appear from side stage to guest on This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak.
10:45 Amsterdam Conversations is the point at which we all realise the night is coming to an end, swiftly followed by The Art of American Football and the first flood of tears from band members.
“For anyone who asks about our band, I would play them these two songs,” Matt says into Roses For The Dead and History.
There isn’t a dry eye in the house and it’s an entirely heart-wrenching 10 minutes, but above all else, the Forum is full of compete admiration for one of the most genuine and impactful British rock bands in this scene.
“If you’ve ever given a sh** about our little band, thank you,” Matt says repeatedly, his voice cracking through the final lyrics.
Long live whatever-core.
Funeral For A Friend 2001 – 2016. And what a ride it’s been.
Photos: Jay Wennington