The end is here. Not to be cliche, of course, but it's a fact. The final markings from one incredible
band following one incredible career have been left. Five Iron Frenzy owned their sound and personality. They knew when to
cut up and have off-the-wall fun and when to get down on their knees before God. They found a fine balance between
the two and just about mastered it.
Five Iron Frenzy packed up their strings, horns, and percussion in November of 2003 and went home for good. Each band member
has already begun moving on to other things, but the unforgettable eight-piece act will remain forever in the hearts
of their fans. Most artists part on pretty sudden terms. Very few artists plan ahead a farewell tour and final
fan projects like Five Iron has. Giving their fans nearly a year's notice of their breakup and not one, but three
final offerings, Five Iron Frenzy went out in style.
Appropriately titled, The End is Here is comprised of the band's limitedly released final studio album The End Is Near (click
title for a full review) from summer 2003 as well as a high-quality live recording of the band's final stage appearance. The live album
is beautifully pieced together, mixing up hits spanning their career and filled with the emotions each member
felt as they experienced their eight and a half year venture roll to a stop. The most moving moment on the project
takes place following the worshipful "World Without End" as frontman Reese Roper's words "This is our last song..."
are followed by an almost endless outburst of applause born out of adoration and appreciation. Although listeners
only have the audio from the show to capture this moment, it's clear the band was moved to tears by this, with
even trombone player Dennis Culp admitting, "You guys are gonna make it hard to sing, I'm just going to be
blubbering into the microphone!"
The set list opens with some classic FIF tunes like "Old West," "Handbook For The Sellout," and "0 Meets 15."
Mixing serious and fun songs from the beginning down through the set, the band wisely chose to close out the
show on a more serious, spiritual note with "New Hope," "World Without End," the incredible "Every New Day," and finally
a cappella renditions of "Amazing Grace" and even "Silent Night." Probably one of the most unique offerings on the record
is the extensive "Medley" which successfully blends pieces of popular Five Iron tracks like
"Superpowers," "One Girl Army," "Pre-Ex-Girlfriend" among others, into one memorable mix.
This copy of The End Is Near is essentially the same great release from last year, with the exception
of the addition of a brand new song "The Cross Of St. Andrew" (which is sadly very short), followed by thirty minutes
of b-side material cut from the final live show (aka The End Is Here). These outtakes include the band thanking
family and friends, paying tribute to fans, and even performing the outrageously goofy fan favorites "Mayonnaise
Taco Monday" and "Pootermobile." All the bits are collected from interludes of talking that was trimmed from in between
the live tracks. I'm glad they cut this material out from the live album because it just slows it down, however, I'm
even more glad they included it as a hidden track. The fans were considered on all accounts when piecing this project
together, and it shows. An insert poster in the CD case even includes an entire side devoted to shots of the audience
at the show.
All in all, I have to give nothing but high marks for this project. For those who already own The End Is Near
and is upset they're re-releasing it with a bonus disc, rest assured that the live album is worth every cent.
As a late-blooming Five Iron enthusiast myself, and not even a diehard fan by any means, The End Is Here
is arguably not only a solid release musically, but one of the best releases a fan of an artist could ever get their hands on.
Thanks for the memories, Five Iron Frenzy, you will be missed but your ministry and legacy will carry on in our hearts.
- Review date: 4/21/04, written by John DiBiase