FAITH NO MORE's 30 years at London's Brixton Academy
Brixton is a district of South London and place of significance in British history. It has seen much unrest over the years with several riots, in 1979 The Clash told us 'You can crush us. You can bruise us. But you'd have to answer to... the guns of Brixton', it is the birthplace of David Bowie, and it is the spiritual home of Faith No More.
"We’ve made fucked-up decisions our whole career. I think that’s why the English embraced us. It feels to me that the English love to champion fucked-up Americans." - Roddy 2015
In 1988 FNM first toured outside of the US with frontman Chuck Mosley, their song We Care A Lot had become an underground hit on UK college radio, therefore they headed for London to expose their unique brand of hippy rock. The first venue the band played of their fourteen show tour was at Dingwalls in Camden on January 22nd. FNM were received with such praise that they returned to the UK four months later.
This was the beginning of a mutual bond which has lasted their entire career. In 1989 FNM again graced the shores of England and Scotland for fourteen dates across the two countries, however it wasn't until 1990 that the UK was truly encapsulated with the band's music. This was possibly FNM's most hectic tour schedule and they were in the UK for dates in January, February and again in April due to the unexpected success of The Real Thing.
The Epic tour consisted of thirteen dates in Ireland, Scotland and England including a hysterical performance on Top of the Pops during which Mike Patton refused to mime the lyrics to From Out Of Nowhere. The band played Hammersmith Odeon on April 27th and Brixton Academy on April 28th, the second of which would be preserved for posterity on the You Fat Bastards live video and album.
"Brixton was an afterthought in lots of ways," Faith No More's booking agent at the time Derek Kemp explains. "We had sold out the Astoria on the previous tour, so the next logical step was to play Hammersmith Odeon. I put the Odeon on sale, and it sold very quickly. I tried to get a second night there, couldn’t get the dates, so found out Brixton Academy was available, so put the band into there. At that time, the capacity for Hammersmith Odeon, because it was all seated then, was about 3,500, maybe just a little bit less, and the capacity of Brixton Academy was around about 5,000. In two nights, the band played to over 8,000 people in London alone." - Small Victories : The True Story of Faith No More | Adrian Harte
RIP Magazine reviewed the show:
Whether or not you appreciate the vinyl, there's no denying Faith No More are one of the most compelling bands to hit the live circuit recently.Their ingenious hybrid of rock, rap, funk and the odd classical break is transformed into something magical on stage, while the crazy showmanship of singer Mike Patton — as unpredictable a character as former vocalist Chuck Mosley — makes the show visually as well as aurally exciting. Brixton was packed and heaving, but its all starting to look a little bit too easy. The 10-legged music monsters songs — including hits 'We Care A Lot', 'Epic' and 'From Out Of Nowhere' — are so strong that the band scarcely had to try and there was the sense of a mere run through. It was only the more offbeat moments — snatches of 'Pump Up The Jam' and 'Street Tuff', the reflective cabaret of 'Edge Of The World', and the stonking encore of Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs' — that they really lit up. Faith No More need a break from touring before they become victims of their own success. Especially as, even on half power,they still blow the rest out of the water.
In 1992 FNM chose London to showcase their new album Angel Dust at a release party held at the Marquee Club. After stadium tours with Guns N Roses and shows in the US Faith No More returned to Brixton Academy on November 25th for three nights. It was at these shows that the band were filmed for live segments which would be included in their video for chart topper Easy. These shots included Patton drinking his own urine from a tennis shoe that had been thrown onstage.
Kerrang! reviewed the first night:
There is a glitterball above the stage and the hideous sounds of Europe's 'The Final Countdown' come parping from the PA. Faith No More are in jolly jape mode, but after that there is very little of the usual sodding about we've come to expect over the past few years.
Last time, their set didn't really work because no one knew any of the songs from 'Angel Dust', but this time those tunes are greeted with almost as much enthusiasm as the old stuff. Almost - but not quite. This is not the usual FNM crowd; there are a lot of new fans, and many of them would be equally happy with a regular pop band. Thankfully, Faith No More seem more than aware of this, and at times it's difficult to tell if the big production, horrible lighting and a very serious rendition of, 'Easy Like Sunday Morning', yes know they've done it before isn't just a piss-take, Faith No More sounded damn near perfect, but because of their new-found fame and the audience that goes with it, there wasn't the same crazy spark of energy that there used to be. The fact that they open the encore with 'Everything's Ruined' is appropriate in same ways, but they have one last ace up their sleeves with the Dead Kennedys' 'Let's Lynch The Landlord', before leaving us with a very abrupt Death Metal racket. Faith No More are not, after all, some stupid pop band. You don't find lunatics like Mike Patton in Bros!
In 1995 the band again started their promotional touring in the UK, but this time around they did not step onto the stage at Brixton. However their King For A Day tour was cut short with November dates cancelled in London. Therefore it was November 29th 1997, five years after the Angel Dust gigs, that the band returned to Brixton Academy. This show was of some significance as the band were joined by Sparks for a rendition of This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of You during the encore.
Again a review of this show was published by Kerrang!:
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.
This time a review was published by The Independant:
It is unlikely there will have been many more bizarre opening songs in the history of live music. Faith No More, legendary funk-metallers back together for the first time in over a decade, in front of a full Brixton Academy packed full of patient fans who have waited so long for this moment, decide to start with ... "Reunited" by Peaches and Herb.
Most bands wouldn't choose to cover the soul duo's aptly named crooner, but then Faith No More are not most bands. Known for their unpredictability and myriad styles, the fact that tonight the whole group – save drummer Mike Bordin – have come dressed in suave pastel suits makes it an even more surreal moment, not least because they play it virtually straight, save Mike Patton's tongue-in-cheek boy-band moves.
The frontman has had no shortage of side-projects to keep him busy since the Californian group's last gig in 1998, and although bands such as Mr Bungle and Tomahawk haven't been without their admirers, nothing has come close to matching Faith No More's popularity.
Those lucky enough to be inside the south London venue are ready to get down to the serious business once the surprise opener is over, and so is Patton as he grasps a loud-hailer, launching into "The Real Thing", the title track of their breakthrough album. The song remains a tour de force, and is followed by "From Out of Nowhere", which sees a screaming Patton hurling himself towards the audience. It's a crowd-pleasing start, but they resist the temptation to stick to the greatest hits throughout the two-hour set. This isn't to everyone's taste – during some of the more experimental songs, parts of the crowd appear to be more interested in chatting to their neighbours.
Still, when they crank up the visceral thrills then no one is distracted. The close of "Be Aggressive", for example that sees the crowd joining in the chant of "Go! Fight!", or Billy Gould's relentless bass on "Surprise! You're Dead!" Predictably, the biggest cheer comes for "Epic", during which the crowd is bathed in light. It may be partially to blame for nu-metal, but it remains a massive song.
Also ensuring that any inattentive audience members are quickly recaptured is Patton himself. An incredibly versatile singer, he can switch from crooning to screaming in a second. With his slicked-back hair and manic glare making him look like Christian Bale in American Psycho, the unstable persona is something that he clearly embraces. At one point he puts the microphone in his mouth and leans back while cackling manically like a cartoon villain.
We get two more covers, both of which are a bit more familiar to Faith No More fans – the Commodores' "Easy" and, in the second and final encore, "I Started a Joke" by the Bee Gees. They even find the time to slip in the Chariots of Fire theme tune, before sliding into "Stripsearch".
"Pristina" finishes off a night that encapsulates the appeal of Faith No More – unpredictable and experimental, but with a well-developed pop sensibility and taste for the dramatic. Time will tell whether a new album will make it more than a nostalgia trip, but either way it is good to have them back.
Another Brixton show was added to brief tour in 2012 and would be the band's final show at the venue, while they opted for The Roundhouse in Camden during 2015's Sol Invictus tour.
Gig Junkies reviewed the night:
After this year’s Sonisphere Festival was cancelled, UK fans of Faith No More thought their chance of seeing the band play this year had been dashed, but the Gods were smiling on us and a few weeks later the band announced two shows in London to try and fill the void. Happy Days! Obviously both shows sold out in a matter of minutes and thus as a lifelong fan I was one happy photographer come reviewer as I made my way down to the smoke.
With the stage set all dressed out in white and decorated with more flora than they have at the neighboring Chelsea flower show, there was a palpable ‘hyper buzzing’ from the expectant crowd at what could be there last chance to see their hero’s in action. A single spot light shines on to keyboardist Roddy Bottum and BOOM! We are underway starting with the haunting eastern sounding intro of “Woodpecker from Mars”. As the song kicked in with its stomping bass line the band – minus Mike Patton sound – as tight as they did the only other time I saw them live, way back in 1992.
Then as the middle section of the Instrumental opener reaches its pinnacle, the song takes a twist in the way only Faith No More can do. Out of nowhere it changes to “Delilah” with this Mike Patton makes his way to the stage, crooning ‘My my my…” and then before you know it back to “Woodpeckers from Mars” with Patton throwing himself across the stage. Immense! What an opening!
What follows is like a greatest hits set, only better. The band is on fire playing with the passion of a new outfit, not one rumored to be calling it a day. With little between songs in the way of banter the band plough through “Midlife Crisis “ “Be Aggressive “ and my all-time favourite song “Caffeine”. This is followed a slower paced “Evidence”. This change of pace demonstrates why Patton is such a versatile front man – one song his face and body contorted while he screams and makes noises only he can and then the next he’s back to crooning like he’s an honorary member of the rat pack with Frank and Sammy.
The Songs sound as fresh and relevant as they did 20 years ago. I’d maybe even say they sound better than did before. As the band leave the stage after playing 15 tunes (all of “Patton” era albums), the crowd is as hyped as any I have seen in the last 20 years. We just don’t want this to end. As always Faith No More have a twist in mind. As they make their way back to the stage and everyone is wondering what classic they’ll encore with, they come out with a NEW song “Matador and with that crush the rumors of a split in a heartbeat. Phew!
They then bowed out with 3 more songs 2 being non-Patton era crowd favourites “As the Worm Turns “and the finale “We Care a Lot”.
And that was it… The crowd began to depart, but were left with the hope of a possible new album in the future. On a personal note I would like to thank Bianca from Gig Junkies for helping to make my attendance at this gig possible. Never did I think I would get to see my favourite band live again but to be able to photograph it as well was truly a dream come true. The band didn’t let me down as they were as good if not better than they were 1992.
On June 16th and 17th 2020 Faith No More will be back on hallowed ground and once again perform at the venue for the which has offered them sanctuary over the last thirty years. If there is one venue which is inextricably linked with this band's history it is Brixton Academy. The UK welcomes FNM back with open arms and expect this next visit will be momentous.