FAITH NO MORE'S First Show At Brixton Academy After 11 Years Away
Independent | 17.06.2009
Just like they've never been gone
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 whie 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
Mail Online | 12.06.2009
Funk, burlesque and a midlife crisis: it must be Faith No More's return
When my editor asked me for a favour I was all set for the worst. When she uttered the words 'could you review the Faith No More show for me I’m not going to be able to make it', I felt like I’d dropped a Jonas brothers single and found a rare Ramones album.
It’s not often that I get to review bands I actually like but when it’s one who split up 12 years ago and is playing a one off festival warm up show then I am reminded of how lucky I am to have a job where this is considered the night shift.
Faith No More
A welcome return: Faith No More rocked the Brixton Academy, playing together for the first time in 12 years
Tonight Brixton Academy is sold out, if there was such a thing as sold out 'plus' or sold out 'extra' then that would more accurately describe the scene. The air is thick with anticipation, conversations can be overheard as to 'what they might open with', complete strangers swapping stories of the last time they saw the mighty FNM. The excitement is palpable.
The stage is framed by maroon drapes cascading down from the lighting rig, creating the look of a theatre setting and after a brief intro the returning heroes are back.
Right from the off I am reminded of what a maverick bunch this band are, they have quite an impressive array of hits but in an act of defiance that has been the hallmark of their entire career. They resist the temptation to play to the gallery and come on with 'The Real Thing'. All eight minutes of it. The audience doesn’t mind, they’ve waited long enough for this return. The crowd goes nuts.
We soon slip into more familiar territory with 'From Out Of Nowhere' and it’s quite obviously as much fun for the band as the rest of us. Bass player Bill Gould (the man who puts the Faith in FNM, being he’s the only one who has always remained open to a reunion) is grinning like the cat that got the cream and the early bird that caught the worm combined.
This however is a gig of three halves.
Once again we are reminded that this band only ever did things their way, this is their reunion and they’ll play whatever songs they feel like. An example being the heads down, no keyboards, no nonsense 'Surprise Your Dead' and then going straight into the Commodores cover, 'Easy'.
After the initial wave of hysteria subsides and the more unfamiliar back catalogue comes into the set (Rv, Chinese Arithmetic, Jizzlober) the same audience that was jumping up and down and singing every word is now standing around swaying patiently but is quite clearly a little confused.
Things get a bit experimental and vocalist Mike Patton seems intent on doing enough shrieking through his on-stage effects unit to make up for the last decade. Some of it works and some of it..? Well, not so much.
Soon enough we are back rocking with Midlife Crisis ('This song is now autobiographical', quips Patton) and the one FNM song everyone knows 'Epic'.
They eventually re-emerge for an encore which initially starts out as a dub version of the Superman theme but ends up being 'Strip-search', a stunning track from the criminally under rated 'Album Of The Year'. Finishing off with 'Just A Man', our evening of rock/pop/funk burlesque is brought to a fitting close and everyone begins the war of attrition that will be getting home without any tubes running.
I consider what I have just seen and come to the conclusion that I haven’t felt this strange combination of elation and confusion since the last time I saw this band. I’m glad they’re back and I will be here should they come back again any time soon because the one thing you can say about us Faith No More fans? We care a lot.
Reunited (Peaches and Herb)
The Real Thing
From Out of Nowhere
Land of Sunshine
intro and middle Black Eyed Peas, "Boom Boom Pow"
Surprise! You're Dead!
Last Cup Of Sorrow
interlude Gershon Kingsley, "Popcorn"
Cuckoo for Caca
The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
King For A Day
Chariots of Fire (Vangelis)
Just A Man
I Started A Joke (Bee Gees)