It’s been “eleven fucking years” says Faith No More front man Mike Patton as he addresses the audience in Brixton Academy, or “Fuck heads” as he refers to them in the band’s live comeback and first show since their split in 1998. Apt opener, 'Reunited', a cover of Peaches and Herbs’ song is symbolic of their return, before The Real Thing gets underway in a set of greatest hits. Dressed in suits, the five members of Faith No More are certainly at home on this stage having released a video in 1991 of their live performance in this same venue, although the band have had a shuffle in members since then. It’s the same line-up for tonight’s sold out gig as at the time of their departure in 1998, with Mike Patton, drummer Mike ‘Puffy’ Bordin, bassist Bill Gould, Roddy Bottum on keyboards, and guitarist Jon Hudson.
Playing against a backdrop of red curtains there are no visual enhancements, the show is solely about the music, but visual entertainment is ever present from Mike Patton, as he bounds about the stage, jumping or dropping to his knees in ultimate vocal-wrenching pantomime, only stopping to adjust his vocal equipment or for rests between songs. Taking the mic in his mouth and gripping it between his teeth, the singer staggers backwards from centre stage and rolls his head back to laugh manically during Land Of Sunshine which creates a circus vibe strengthened by Roddy’s melodies on keys. He then produces a loud-speaker before Caffeine erupts, an offering also from 1992’s Angel Dust.
If you ignore the matured appearance of the performers on stage (now a decade older), it’s hard to believe some of the songs played are older than some visibly younger members of the audience down at the front of the pit, which the band also refer to in banter between songs. The songs seem to have a renewed vibrancy, glossed over with an enthusiasm that can be sensed from fans in the crowd who take delight in Faith No More’s reunion and live return. During Midlife Crisis the audience monopolise the singing as the baffling lyrics of “…Your menstruating heart, it ain’t bleeding enough for two” echo around the venue, a far from average sing-a-long anthem.
The various musical projects Mike Patton’s been involved in during Faith No More’s absence from the music scene also have an affect on the songs not just with the vocal tech tools he uses, but his natural abilities seem to have expanded. He appears just as comfortable growling and shouting his way though noise-mongering stomps like, Malpractice, as he is performing the rap-rock style of Epic and Surprise! Your Dead, or part-rasping his way through Last Cup Of Sorrow and RV. His softer singing gleams too with former number one single Easy, and Stripsearch and the following songs in the finales.
The band and fan interaction is ever present tonight as California’s quintet indulge the crowd by playing the Chariots Of Fire theme. Then, in Just A Man from 1995’s King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime, the singer is off stage and down at the barriers standing before the crowd with arms stretched, gesturing like a conductor in a mock finale, before the magic of the second encore in I Started A Joke. This Bee Gees cover is almost owned by Faith No More tonight, going beyond an anthem for the unlucky; in a bid to send the audience off in a cheery mood. This would no doubt make their difficult journeys home (in light of tube strikes) seem that more peachy – also the shade of the front man’s suit. Pristina closes a breathtaking performance that sets expectations for their forthcoming Download appearance and following tour of Europe.