Funeral For A Friend / Fightstar - Manchester Academy - 4.6.06

"We've got a couple of hecklers in, will you all shout c*nt". C*nt reveberates around the venue with 2000 people shouting in unison. Tonight was always going to be a difficult transition for Fightstar despite the patronage of Funeral For A Friend and the majority of critics in the rock fraternity, yet still over 12 months since Busted split and a number of months since Fightstar's debut album "Grand Unification" dropped audiences are still split. Either you love them or stand at the back with your arms folded in disapproval. With pummeling bass, off kilter rhythms the band are not a commercial proposition at all, even their musical heroes Biffy Clyro, Taking Back Sunday and Succiopero deliver a niftier line in commercial tuneage and compared to Panic! At The Disco or Fall Out Boy, Fightstar are practically death metal. What Fightstar excel in is the sheer determination to prove their detractors wrong with each show being played like its gonna be their last and looking on you really do hope that the haters keep knocking them because the moment they receive the adulation they clearly deserve you get the feeling that it will be mission over and the cracks will start to show as they realise they really don't need to fight for acceptance. The early EP tracks "Paint Your Target", "Lost Like Tears In The Rain" along with recent single  "Hazy Eyes" are reasons why Fightstar have been invited on tour by most of their musical heroes, but the real challenge for them is going to be that all important 2nd album which they must be thinking about right now. Nail that and their future is assured.

Playing a venue about 10 times smaller the size they should be, Funeral For A Friend have a double edged victory of sorts. Selling out the venue alone in little of the way of promotion or releases in the past few months they present themselves as the band that give a legitimacy to the British Rock Scene. Lostprophets (and not forgetting bands like Terrorvision before them) may have pushed open the door, but it was Funeral For a Friend that managed to mar a commercial success in both the UK and US with a credible breakthrough. And tonight they proved why we should support homegrown talent as much as the likes of My Chemical Romance or Panic! At tHe Disco.

For Designer Magazine it's those early tracks from "Between Order and Model" and "Seven Ways To Scream Your name" EP that broke them through. Interestingly it was these EPs that escaped the NME radar, who one hack from questioned your correspondent "FFAF, who are they?" before booking them just over 6 months later once they'd signed to a major for the annual NME tour. Now virtually all married off they present themselves as the elder statesmen of the British Rock Scene despite being little older than 25. It's the Welsh state of mind to get married to childhood sweethearts and settle up home in the valleys.

Dipping in and out of the best moments of the bands two albums "Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation" and "Hours" this is a band at the top of their game. The noodley metal moments of ""Escape Artists Never Die", the anthemic beauty of "Juneau" through to the ballad and sea of mobile phones for "History". "She Drove Me To Daytime Television" reminds us of those intimate sweaty gigs in venues such as Manchester Roadhouse and Liverpool Academy where the band could actually walk around the venues prior to the gigs without being mobbed.

Halfway through the set Matt Davies finds the fan who it turns out has lobbed not just one egg, but a whole carton of eggs in the direction of Charlie simpson. "We Are Friends, we are family. If you disrespect one of us, you disrespect us all". It's the most telling thing about Funeral For A Friend that they're about supporting the rock scene rather than getting involved in the scene's infighting.

As Designer Magazine left the Academy we were reminded why Funeral For A Friend are such an important band for the UK's rock scene and while Panic! At The Disco and My Chemical Romance have taken over the planet we all need to be reminded of the great homegrown talent we have right under our noses. We ask you - SUPPORT BRITISH ROCK MUSIC!!!

Alex McCann
Photos: Shirlaine Forrest

Click here to leave your reviews / comments on the Message Board
(NB: The message board opens in a new window so please disable your pop-up blocker to view)