FAITH NO MORE | 29.11.1997 | Brixton Academy
AS YET another pint hits the stage, showering Radish frontman Ben Kweller in beer, it becomes clear that his band are about as popular tonight as a turd in a swimming pool. And to be frank, it's easy to see why - Radish are indeed a load of poo. The Texan trio bluster their way through one insipid, sugary ditty after another - one of which, presumably with some irony, is called 'Sugar Free' - holding the eye in exactly the same way as drying paint. God, they're boring!
The crowd, inactive throughout, gives them a single roar of approval when Kweller announces that "this is our last song", before putting them forever out of their minds. Radish are one band we won't be rooting for.
Faith No More, on the other hand, never cease to entice the biggest and most enthusiastic of audiences along to their shows, despite the fact that they've never topped 1989's awesome 'The Real Thing' opus, and that much of the chemistry that once made them the hottest ticket in town has gone. While they've written some truly magnificent songs since then, aside from 'Angel Dust' there hasn't been a consistently good album. And somehow, it's not so much fun watching them now they don't hate each other anymore - it was, after all, a stroke of genius having a gun toting redneck, namely ex-guitarist Jim Martin, in the same band as homosexual keyboardist Roddy Bottum. But that's not to say that there aren't still moments of sheer brilliance in a Faith No More set - and that, I guess, is why we still keep coming. Tonight, they slither onstage in their typically outlandish fashion with their cover of the theme from 'Midnight Cowboy', before launching into the usually unusual hit- and-miss cabaret. Mike Patton, as ever, is a totally captivating frontman, writhing and cavorting like the delinquent child of Iggy, crooning like the Frank Sinatra of metal. And it has to be said, when they get it right, Faith No More are unstoppable. But there are too many lulls in the set: for every gem like 'Last Cup of Sorrow', there is a song you can't remember the name of because it was just another album track. And it would be nice to hear something from 'The Real Thing' other than just 'Epic', which clearly bores Patton to distraction (even if he does inject it with lines from that hideous 'Barbie Girl' song).
The evening's show-stopper comes during the encore, when FNM are joined by 70s pop loans Sparks - replete with insane pianist Ron Mael, a man who looks like Hitler in a bad mood - for a magnificent cover of 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us'. And with two encores, no one with two encores, no one goes home short-changed. But there's also none of that post-gig excitement on the tube home. We know we've seen a good band, and we'll go and see them again and turn I again, but No More will they take us to the same highs.