This title makes it sound like somebody has died. Nobody's died. Only my little emo heart.
My late teens were the most significant years of my life. At the time, I was desperately unhappy but I look back now with the fondest memories. I was so free- I'd forged the most wonderful friendship with Marie, I spent my days queuing up in Brixton so I could be at the barrier for gigs and it really felt like I could do anything I wanted in life. Mostly I remember summer days wearing ripped fishnets and red eyeshadow, getting heckled at Thorpe Park (and loving it), saving all my EMA for another piercing from the alternative shop in town where I was absolutely in love with the beautiful (but unfortunately gay) piercer. Throughout all these memories, I can hear the soundtrack of my teens- My Chemical Romance, AFI and, yes, Funeral for a Friend.
I'm popping some old photos in this post. Hover over for details on them.
Hours, the second album, came out on my 17th birthday- 13th June 2005. I happened to be staying with my dad in London that week so I rushed to the Bond Street HMV for the CD and listened to it on my Walkman while I travelled back on the Central Line. That November, Marie and I booked tickets to Taste of Chaos where Funeral for a Friend were playing with The Used. Afterwards, we hung around by the stage door and were thrilled when Gareth Davies- the bassist of Funeral for a Friend- leaned out of the window and shouted "Are you cold? I'm coming down!" before bursting out of the venue and giving us all hugs. The next February, they played in Reading. Unfortunatey the gig was cancelled on the day but, as we were already there, we spent the day in the city with some local guys we'd recently met at a gig. I went on to date one of them for a bit and that evening was the start of our love affair. Throughout 2004- 2006, Funeral for a Friend were always there, lurking in the background of these most significant events, bringing me together with others, providing solace in darker times and giving us lyrics to shout out of cheap used Fords at McDonald's drive thrus.
As the years passed, my favourite bands petered away. They stopped releasing music, stopped touring, gradually faded into nothing. Except for Funeral for a Friend. When I met Laura at uni, she joked that I was forever going to Funeral for a Friend gigs, and she was right. Whenever they were playing, Marie and I would book tickets. We danced at festival set after festival set, said goodbye to Darran in 2010 and, a year later, happened to be eating Nando's before a gig in Reading when the band came in and sat at the table behind us, just moments after joking that we would love that to happen. (Funnily enough, the exact same thing happened this weekend! I guess Funeral for a Friend love a pre-gig Nando's as much as we do) In the end, I notched up more than 20 of their gigs- Marie was closer to 30.
So it was with mixed feelings that I attended the two final Funeral for a Friend gigs in London last weekend. On the first night, they played the entirety of Hours- the album that really made them for me. All our little traditions- kissing Marie during Streetcar (praying for our lips to touch), linking hands during Roses for the Dead (so raise your hands up high) and raising our fingers for one last salute in History- felt so poignant and the tears flowed freely. It was also wonderful to hear some songs that I don't think I'd heard live before, or at least not for a long time, such as All The Rage and, especially, Drive which was a song I really connected with as a teenager.
The next night was the most emotional gig I've ever attended. Playing the entirety of their first album Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation followed by the earlier EP Seven Ways to Scream Your Name, complete with original members Ryan and Darran, the love for this band was so evident in the venue that you could almost taste it. The final playing of Juneau was like nothing I've experienced before- every single person in the venue screaming yet I'm nothing more than a line in your book at the top of their lungs, with more meaning than I'd ever heard before- and the opportunity for us to sing the opening verse of Red is the New Black en masse with Kris's guitar. Vocalist Matt Davies explained what every song meant to him and became more emotional with each track. By the end, he was sobbing his heart out, as were we all. For the final songs, he explained that he'd chosen the two songs that he felt really encapsulated what Funeral for a Friend were all about- Roses for the Dead and History.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I absolutely broke down. I tried to sing along but the words got lost in my sobs. Every lyric seemed to hold such poignancy and the realisation that these two songs, which I must have heard at every single performance I'd attended, would never be played live again was heartbreaking. Most of all though, it really felt like closing a curtain on that period of my life.
I'm almost 30 now- far from the troubled, scared teen who really was a sucker for tragedies. I'm happy with my life, I'm in a secure, stable place and I know who I am. It's time to say goodbye and move forward into the next stage of my life.
So, to Funeral for a Friend, thank you. Thank you for writing lyrics that connected with me on such a deep level. Thank you for providing me with comfort when I felt like I'd lost hope. Thank you for bringing me together with so many amazing people who, although they are not all in my life still, will always have a very special place in my heart. Thank you for giving me something to dance to, sing to and scream to, whether in a grubby music venue, a muddy field, a friend's car or just my bedroom. Thank you for being the foundation of my friendship with Marie, who is one of the most special people I've ever met. Thank you for always being there, whether in the background or at the forefront, of so many memories, both good and bad.
Most of all, thank you for being more than just music- for being a soundtrack, a companion and a symbol of what would end up, strangely enough, being the best time of my life. Your history is mine.