Fun Lovin Criminals @ O2 Academy, Bristol – 11 March 2010

It’s been five years since Fun Lovin Criminals have been out on the road, oozing their super-coolness with an eclectic combination of rock, hip hop, funk, blues and jazz.

The recent release of their sixth studio album ‘Classic Fantastic’ coincides with this UK tour. Tonight’s party starts with ‘Jimi Choo’ and the title track from the latest offering. Media darling and vocalist/guitarist Huey Morgan, along with multi-instrumentalist Brian “Fast” Leiser, and drummer Mark “Frank the Rhythm Man” Reid go on to play a monumental 25 track set, which includes material from the later albums ‘Livin’ in the City’, ‘Welcome to Poppy’s’ and ‘Loco’.

As the trio amble through ‘Too Hot’, ‘City Boy’, ‘Mars’ and the first sing-along of the evening ‘Smoke ‘Em’, it’s not hard to see why they were one of the most definitive bands of the 90s. Mid-set brings us amongst others, ‘King of New York’, ‘Korean Bodega’ and the earlier than anticipated, but eagerly received ‘Scooby Snacks’. For anybody thinking the show had peaked too soon, the band plough on with ‘Dickholder’, ‘Coney Island Girl’, ’10th Street’ and ‘I Can’t Get With That’, retaining the house throughout.

By now, those paying attention to him, have to be in awe of Brian “Fast” Leiser, who when not playing bass can be seen playing the keyboard with one hand, holding a trumpet to his lips with the other, and playing bass pedals with his foot.

Fast and drummer “Uncle Frank” provide an audience pleasing rap during ‘We, the 3’, and the down tempo Barry White tribute song, ‘Love Unlimited’ is another massive sing-along for the Bristolian crowd. Finishing with ‘Will I Be Ready’, Huey suggests the band will be back sooner than another five years, specifically at festivals throughout the summer.

FLC return to stage, with a telephone skit featuring “Mike Strutter”, Paul Kaye’s outrageous MTV character. All three band members are seen to converse with Strutter to mildly amusing effect, and just for an embarrassing moment the cool is gone. Thankfully, it returns for the acoustic ‘Live Have Love’ with Frank featuring on second guitar.

Completing a wholly entertaining set with ‘The Fun Lovin’ Criminal’, New York’s finest exponents leave as “schmoovely” as they had arrived.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston