Album Review: Funeral for a Friend – Hours: Live at Islington Academy

A lot’s changed since 2005, most of all Funeral for a Friend themselves. But ‘Hours’ has remained a consistent fan favourite, so it comes as no surprise that they chose to play it front to back at the Islington Academy in April 2014. But was this another record that time should have left well alone?

The Bridgend quartet’s second album and a milestone in the post-hardcore genre’s development, you probably remember those emotions when you first held a copy of ‘Hours’. The trepidation, the anticipation, the awareness that nothing would be able to touch that album in your mental list of emo highlights. 10 years on, whether you still hold it in the same regard or not, hearing the track listing live from beginning to end is a feat of nostalgia and a ritual reopening of old wounds.

“Who was it that said that great things come to great men? Well that fucker lied to us,” echoes the trademark philosophy of ‘All The Rage’, introducing a heartbreaking play-through while the crowd responds in beautiful unison to demonstrate the longevity of an iconic album. Missing the iconic dialtone of ‘Streetcar’ and guitars struggling to keep up, however, the live atmosphere brings even more anguish to the lyric “I can’t feel the same about you anymore”.

The nostalgic energy of ‘Roses for the Dead’ is spoiled by out of key backing vocals, which proves surprising given the track appears often on setlists. ‘Hospitality’ has never been played to an audience before, and while it’s performed with some anxiety, it somehow emerges more emotive and polished than on record, closing on a playful twist with “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for”.

The morose swan song of ‘Drive’ perfectly complements the down-tone political condemnation of ‘History’. While regular setlist star ‘The End Of Nothing’ proves more remorseless live, the haunting electrics of ‘Recovery’ and the line “this heart’s not beating, it just doesn’t feel the same” couldn’t be more wrong. ‘Hours’ still feels the same as it ever did, despite numerous line-up changes and the vast decade in between.

“This is about same sex equality,” introduces ‘Alvarez’, with mic feedback and shaky vocals spoiling an otherwise haunting rendition that could reduce you to tears on any given Thursday. ‘Sonny’’s haunting opening notes soon serve a devastating death knell on the replay of a timeless record that’s survived the rise and fall of the halcyon emo era.

However, just when you thought the curtain had closed, the live performance concludes on additional highlights from FFAF’s recent setlist cycle. An honourably emphatic delivery of ‘1%’ from January’s release ‘Chapter And Verse’ and fan favourite ‘Juneau’ projects near flawlessly, while the hallowed ‘Escape Artists Never Die’ rounds off a performance crammed with memories, however bitter or since invalid.

The indomitable passage of time may not have been hugely kind to Funeral for a Friend’s musical output and their performance ability, however the material present on ‘Hours’ has proved unassailable to the years.

3/5

’Hours Live at Islington Academy’ by Funeral for a Friend is out now on End Hit Records.

Funeral for a Friend links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)

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