Live Review: Funeral For A Friend, Harbours, Beth Lucas

15 February 2016 | 4:39 pm | Benny Doyle

"Sore neck, tired eyes, long day, power nap. We are back at The Brightside, depleted on energy but smiling and ready."

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Walking the deserted streets of Covent Garden — barely-dawn, completely winter, probably hungover — on the way to work. Nine sun-drenched days in northern Spain catching waves and running from bulls. A circle pit-produced broken foot at Donington Park Circuit. Frisbee on the green. Sitting on the tube. Plane delays. Late nights. London living.

Certain albums help maximise the memorable moments in your life, but can also turn the mundane into magic. The headliners in town for their final Brisbane stand — a two-night Valley residency, no less — provided us with a pair of these records over a decade ago. So now we've come to say thank you, and goodbye. Everyone is arriving with that same sense of nostalgia, but we're going to push it aside for the moment to turn back the clock and dance like we've got dyed black hair and fringes again. This reviewer already knows he's going to need a massage come Saturday.

Opening the farewell tour is local strummer Beth Lucas, and her raw acoustic sounds provide the most emotive of introductions. Versed in confessional verses, she shares with us stories, feelings, hopes and fears — concurrently pulling at her guitar strings and our hearts. Bar-side chatter occasionally becomes too audible, taking away from Lucas' undeniable talents, but although we stare daggers to our rear she doesn't even flinch. Striking stuff.

An empty bottle later and thick guitar riffs call us inside from our open-air break. We find Melbourne's Harbours whipping their hair around in determined bursts. The youngsters — who are supporting on all Australian dates — concoct a strange brew of vintage and now sounds that move between Seattle grunge and The Wave-style post-hardcore. Kyle O'Shea is a baby-faced assassin on the bass guitar; Sam Bassal does his best Steph Carpenter impression on the six-string. Halfway through the set we realise there's a second guitarist hidden over in the right corner of stage — the wall of noise makes sense now. The five lads seriously kick out the jams at the end, with Tory Robertson fucking roaring.

Getting a good spot early pays dividends, with Funeral For A Friend emerging about 20 minutes earlier than expected. Matt Davies-Kreye uses a small chunk of the time to immediately stir emotion in us all, offering up the kind of gratitude you usually expect at night's end. Now, we can just concentrate on the music, which tonight translates into a front-to-back performance of second record Hours.

The pedal is put down for the first trio of tracks, but following the brash breakdown of Roses For The Dead, Davies-Kreye feels it's in all our best interests to give some ground rules on stagediving, front-row responsibility, and equipment handling. It's a smart play. Tonight is sold out, but there is still ample space on the dancefloor, making it a bit of a minefield when it comes to launching one's self into (hopefully) outstretched arms. It's not to discourage punters from expressing themselves, it's just to make sure they look at the tarmac before they take off. Sage.

Davies-Kreye and guitarist Kris Coombs-Roberts are the only current members who have played on every Funeral record, but the new faces filling out the squad — Gavin Burrough, Richard Boucher and Casey McHale — make these old songs their own. Boucher's fret work is furious — his bass lines continually dancing between the flared rhythms of McHale. Meanwhile, we're all rather jealous of Burrough when he gets his rig out, as the room has transformed into a meat sauna, and we're all baking in our own juices #Queensland.

The fingers get raised for one last salute during History, which provides a moment of solace between the likes of Monsters and Recovery — a track Davies-Kreye notes is "written for [our] feet". The biggest treat from the album, however, is the final 'mic drop', Sonny — a track they've pretty much never played live, which is this brooding, intense slow burner that tonight packs more punch than any of the speedier, heavier numbers heard before it.

As is standard protocol on album celebration tours, Funeral give us a cheeky encore made up of the recent (Sixteen1%), the not-so recent (The Great Wide Open), and, because not everyone can make the Friday show, a couple of Casually Dressed... classics (JuneauEscape Artists Never Die). We couldn't be more excited about the second — and final — part of this experience tomorrow night.

Sore neck, tired eyes, long day, power nap. We are back at The Brightside, depleted on energy but smiling and ready. Lucas and the Harbours boys both deliver in spades once more, but as expected the capacity crowd is in the house to hear Funeral For A Friend's landmark post-hardcore debut, 2003's Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation. The Welsh quintet eventually greet us with minimal carry-on, and immediately set a real fans vibe, playing era B-side 10 Scene Points To The Winner, before serving up the main course.

Rookie Of The Year gets everyone bouncing, while Bullet Theory helps us rediscover our voices. Minutes later and some rodeo clown has managed to tip himself from supporting hands straight onto the floor — head first. Clearly no one shared last night's pro tips. His rattled form is helped from the main floor so he can sit down and enjoy his concussion, while we scuff our kicks to the album's big singles — already heard by the majority it seems — and some other fan favourites like Moments Forever Faded and Red Is The New Black.

The album's sole ballad, Your Revolution Is A Joke, is done poignant justice with Davies-Kreye and Coombs-Roberts going at it as a standalone duo — complete with busker box for additional stripped-back effect. However, guitar issues mean the guys have to work hard to make the album's conclusion as special as it should be. They do get there though — not as if we expected anything less — and you could even argue the tension brought on by Coombs-Roberts trying to get his, um... unique (?) teal axe to work helped make the final few cuts additionally epic.

As suggested by the opening track, tonight's encore is designed for the diehards. B-sides and EP winners like Kiss & Make Up (All Bets Are Off)You Want Romance?10:45 Amsterdam Conversations and The Art Of American Football all feature, as we pogo, thrash and sing with full volume. During the latter tune, a boofy bloke front of stage is handed the mic and he blows everyone away — band included — with his on-point delivery. Funeral then flip the switch, concluding tonight's show — and their time in Brisbane — with what Davies-Kreye cites as the "most personal song [he's] ever written", Roses For The Dead.

The music stops and is instantly replaced by huge cheers. The band shake hands, distribute picks and drum sticks, and soak up the adulation. They make a quiet exit, but it's clear emotion has directed them someplace quiet, away from the lights. It's been two nights of all killer, no filler — and no Sum 41, except for an unwarranted airing of In Too Deep in the beer garden. And that's it — once more, all we have are the memories.