The first cassette tape I ever bought for myself was Faith No More’s The Real Thing. I was seven years old and like many other people, I fell for their hit single Epic and was sucked into the endless loop of that video showing on MTV. As the band put out a new album every couple of years, I was there to buy it, listen to it and fall in love with it. But by 1998, the band broke up and I never got to see them perform live.
A decade later the band announced it was getting back together. Finally my chance to see them live! Their “Second Coming” tour made it’s way to the Williamsburg Waterfront in Brooklyn and it was a hell of a show. One more “must see” band off my bucket list. So now I was just being greedy by seeing the band again.
When it was announced that the group would be playing Madison Square Garden I was quite surprised. It’s a big venue and while Faith No More has a solid fan base here in the U.S., I didn’t think a sellout at the Garden would be feasible. Not sure anyone did. During the show, keyboardist Roddy Bottum even noted, “MSG is for hockey. And Billy Joel.” And he was right. Faith No More needed a more intimate setting for their brand of soulful, funky, hard rock. What better place to rebook the show than, well, MSG’s theater.
“This is the first time I had a show cancelled and rebooked at the same venue,” lead singer Mike Patton joked before apologizing for the confusion and ticket SNAFU that resulted from the show’s cancellation and rebooking.
Honestly, it was for the better that the show ended up at the Theater. It was packed full of diehard Faith No More fans and the acoustics were spot on as Patton’s often operatic voice belted out fan favorites such as “Be Aggressive,” “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies,” and the song that started it all for the band’s fame, “Epic.”
The band is older now and not the same 20-somethings that ran around like maniacs on the stage of Saturday Night Live back in December of 1990. That doesn’t mean they aren’t still lively. They opened the show with the title track off The Real Thing and my god, was it sensational. That performance was jam-packed with the type of raw energy that very few bands can do night in and night out but these guys somehow find a way. Each one of them leaves a piece of themselves on that stage and there is no holding back the intensity. It’s hard to believe it’s the same band that had so much infighting that led to the implosion seventeen years ago. The band seems like they really like, no, love each other, and put all egos aside, much to the delight of me and thousands and thousands of fans.
They remained active over the years between breakup and reunion. Patton put out a slew of albums with his bands Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, Fantômas, Peeping Tom and more. Hell, I even saw Tomahawk and Fantômas both open for Tool a decade or so ago (to, um, mixed reactions from the crowd). And of course drummer Mike Bordin kept busy by playing with Ozzy Osbourne’s band and sometimes subbing in for Bill “Fucking” Ward of Black Sabbath. And while they all can list accolades outside of Faith No More I think they all can agree that when they get together, something magical happens.
The band displayed pure rock ferocity (“Superhero” and “Caffeine”), soulful and sensual moments (their cover of the Commodore’s “Easy”) and even funky, disco that rivals the Bee Gees (their “Lowdown” interlude during “Midlife Crises”). It’s like seeing four bands all at once but somehow it not only works, but also makes complete sense.
After their initial reunion six years ago, every fan had hoped it would lead to new music being written. The band obliged and put out the insanely great album Sol Invictus earlier this year and they played a good selection of those songs live last night (“Black Friday,” “Separation Anxiety,” and “Matador” to name a few). However, it was their album Angel Dust that got the most love last night at the Theater and the crowd couldn’t have been more pleased.
Photo credit to my buddy Dan McCarthy who was in General Admission having a blast
The band came out for a three-song encore featuring another new track (“Motherfucker’), another Angel Dust classic (“RV”) and a favorite of theirs to play live (“Just a Man”). From start to finish the band was feverishly giving it their all, sweating through their white outfits and making them pretty much see through by the end of the show. Patton’s voice never wavered once, hitting every single note with such ease that you just know he must be doing some kind of Voodoo to keep his singing capabilities so perfect after all of these years and shows. Billy Gould’s bass made the Theater come to life and Jon Hudson’s guitar work was so stellar, going from shredding to wah wah funkiness in a blink of an eye. Add in Bottum’s terrific keyboards (see the aforementioned “Epic” and “Superhero”) as well as Bordin’s relentless drumming and you have one of the most entertaining shows you will ever see.