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Funeral For A Friend, Temple Bar Music Centre, Dublin, 19th 0ctober 2003

The problem with over-hyped bands is that there can often be such an extraordinary level expected of them that they can never hope to reach it and they ultimately fail for not living up to their media image. In the case of the so-called "new Welsh phenomena", Funeral For A Friend, it is all right to believe the hype. Unfortunately for their support, local band On/Off, there is not a lot to believe in. They're your typical, one-dimensional, Irish Blast gig favourite, punk band. Despite having a strong following down by the barrier, it is going to take a lot more than their ham-fisted efforts at Rancid meets The Offspring punk rock to push them to the next level.

Taking to the stage just after 9.30 after a long day spent talking to the Irish press FFAF made their Irish debut in style. Opening numbers 'Kiss and make-up (all bets are off)', 'She drove me to daytime television' and 'Rookie of the year' were met like old favourites, immediately converting any non-believers who may have wandered in. Their blend of melody and aggression, especially in 'Rookie…', was perfect. Just as you feel the songs might be about to get boring, Funeral kicked in with an almighty drumbeat and wave of distortion, shaking the Music Centre to its core.

Delivering their debut, 'Casually dressed and deep in conversation', in its entirety, Funeral were out to make new friends tonight. Their emotionally intense and charged, rake thin vocalist Matt Davies wrenched himself around the stage, melodies and poetry pouring from his open mouth. Between songs, he seemed shy, hiding behind his hair, but with the music raging behind him he was unstoppable, bounding around and narrowly missing out on getting skulled by the bass on a number of occasions.

'Escape artists never die' was dedicated to David Blaine, while current single 'Bullet theory' was delivered like The Deftones being dragged through shattered glass, the lyrics "you like this baby?/ you want to dance a little longer?" sneered out darkly by Matt. The pile-driver drumming and stunning guitars of 'This year's most open heartbreak' pushed it full force into to the chant along "We will never be the same/ Same old songs on a brand new stereo" ending. Closing with the stunning 'Juneau', Funeral For A Friend proved that they are easily one of the most electrifying live bands around at the moment and that sometimes you can believe in the hype.

Ken McGrath.

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