Last night at London’s jam-packed Brixton Academy a slice of metal history was revisited, and a new chapter began. Mike Patton, Roddy Bottum, Billy Gould, Mike “Puffy” Bordin and Album of the Year-era guitarist Jon Hudson (stepping in once again for Jim Martin) returned to the stage after 11 years as Faith No More.
In front of a David Lynch-inspired red draped backdrop, the quintet emerged in Zoot Suits (Patton’s peach, Bottum’s appropriately pink, Gould’s cream and Hudson in blue — only Puffy was let off the hook behind his kit in standard attire), and wedding-like buttonhole carnations, playing an unlikely but appropriate tune: Peaches & Herb’s soul classic “Reunited.” When Patton and Bottom finished their duet, there were genuine smiles from the stage of both relief and pleasure.
From the start Patton the auteur commanded the stage, and it became clear that his post-FNM musical adventures have added new dimensions to the band’s songs. Patton, in slicked-back hair, switched between easy listening and screams with ease, and his stage mannerisms swung from Messiah-like iconography during “I Started A Joke” to crazed epileptic tantrums in “The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies,” and he wasn’t afraid to play the role of refined classic ’50s gentleman. Chants of “you fat bastard” elicited the response, “You say it now and it’s true!” while patting his (clearly not) big stomach. “How about something fat with a ‘ph’?” he began before the swish of “Evidence” began.
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The volume was loud and the crowd response deafening, and while the set wasn’t faultless — the sturdy “Jizzlobber” went slightly wobbly at the end — the quintet avoided an obvious nostalgic greatest-hits set. A gracious “Easy” arrived early on, and the sonic battery began in earnest with an explosive “Surprise! You’re Dead,” anchored by Bordin and Gould’s spotless rhythms. Patton’s love of noise experimentation took center stage during a “Cuckoo For Caca” that was so overwhelming, it left ears nearly bleeding.
With a humble “It’s been very nice to see you, thank you and good night,” Faith No More made their exit, returning with Vangelis’ “Chariots Of Fire” and “Stripsearch” for the first of two encores. They capped the night with “I Started A Joke” and left for good after “Pristina.” It was a mix that accentuated the band’s glorious eccentricity: Faith No More were always left-field, yet inadvertently created some awesome songs with mass appeal. Last night was about a band rediscovering their special chemistry, and proving good music only improves with age.
“Reunited” (Peaches & Herb cover)
“The Real Thing”
“From Out of Nowhere”
“Land of Sunshine”
“Surprise! You’re Dead!”
“Last Cup of Sorrow”
“Cuckoo For Caca”
“The Gentle Art of Making Enemies”
“King For a Day”
“Chariots of Fire”/”Stripsearch”
“Just A Man”
“I Started a Joke”