A few weeks ago we had chance to catch up with Norwich-based rockers, Hours, about their new single, and we took the opportunity of their recent tour supporting Neon Sarcastic to see if their live show lived up to the standards of Crossfire.
From the off, it’s easy to tell that these guys are a band with established foundations – they formed a little over a year ago (more on that later) but they already boast well-grounded roots, with the generally tight show and fit-to-burst enthusiasm. That phrase should be taken quite literally from the off, with frontman Ian (Bidle, vocals) deciding after the first few seconds that the stage was a little confined, so took to the floor and brought the crowd forward to join him with the sweaty, zesty energy the music elicited.
To create a sound akin to the studio recording, Ian partially covered the mike to muffle the vocals slightly and form a raspier edge to the show; whilst this works in the fact that the sound matches up to the record more closely, it has the disadvantage of meaning the vocals become lost at parts. By the second song of the set – their single, Crossfire – Ian had noticed this and a small tweak in levels made a huge difference, bringing the bite back into the set. This didn’t prevent some struggle with the backing vocals being heard though – as nice as it would be to have lungs powerful enough to fill a room, a mike is necessary with instrumental so overwhelming.
It may well have just been the small venue causing them to watch their space (“it’s all intimate and sh-t”, as Ian so eloquently puts), but the band seemed a little on the tense side, even when they started to loosen up and jump around the set. It wasn’t until the end of the set that the band seemed properly comfortable, and it had a massive effect on the set; although Stories felt a little sloppy around the edges, the majority of the show was impressively tight to say how chaotic it was getting on stage. If the band are having a good time, the crowd do as well, naturally, and there’s never been a better example of this, with the audience joining in the chaos once those on stage let it go. As Ian says, “you guys paid to get in so you might as well have a good time”.
I understand that when on tour, the band undoubtedly want good photos of all the show, and what better way to go about it than having your own photographer? However, when there are flashing lights on the back of the set and the photographer is standing between the band and the audience (which in a venue this size, made a fair impact), it starts to feel more like a staged photo shoot; I almost wouldn’t have been surprised if there had been reflectors on the back of the speakers.
Despite forgetting the name pf the opening band (Everybody Looks Famous) at the start of the set, Hours are very clearly neither flippant nor ungrateful about what they are doing. When Ian asks the crowd to join in with the vocals, it’s almost endearing how shocked and happy they are with it, and the chanting “I’ll tell you now / We had it all / We had it all”, appeared to leave the whole band taken aback.
Before the band’s penultimate song, they took a few moments to commemorate their one year anniversary a few weeks ago, since they declared themselves as a band and announced their debut single, Casino Lights (“which you can download online for free! You don’t have to pay a penny! Free!”). The confidence they held with this track only hints at the dozens of times they must have played it, although this didn’t prevent the vocals being lost as the instrumental racked up a notch. The most powerful vocals of the set came in the closing track, before the room-shaking percussion wound the set to its finale.
Despite the set being broken up between songs with a need for a breather from the exertion, the full-on enthusiasm made the already accessible set enjoyable for anyone in the crowd – and if synchronised headbanging were a sport, these guys would be world-famous.