Faith No More @ Hammersmith Apollo, London – 8 July 2012

From the debut album ‘We Care a Lot’ in 1985 up until their final release ‘Album of the Year’ in 1997, Faith No More never feared the art of musical experimentation, releasing ever more complex and confounding records.

I saw them for the first time, far too late on, in 1997, and was therefore ecstatic to get a second opportunity when they reunited in 2009 at London’s Brixton Academy. So, the announcement of this – one of two London shows this year – came as a super-massive-mega-bonus.

The stage is strewn with hundreds of flowers. Why? I couldn’t tell you, but sat in the photo-pit for ten minutes pre-show, I can attest to this being the best smelling gig ever. Be it the flowers, or stage crew and band dressed in psychiatric whites, Faith No More have always had a lunacy thing about them – it’s a major part of their attraction.

Opening with ‘Woodpecker From Mars’ the ferocious instrumental from 1989’s ‘The Real Thing’, a sudden change of tempo sees Mike Patton leading the crowd through a sing-along of ‘Delilah’, which is of course lapped up by the London FNM lunatics, who have learnt to expect the unexpected.

Following on with a super charged ‘Midlife Crisis’ and a welcome outing for ‘Ricochet’ and ‘Land of Sunshine’, Hammersmith is at full throttle for this unrelenting opening. Therefore, it comes with some relief when ‘Evidence’ gives chance for a collective catching of breath.

With Billy Gould smacking the life out of his bass and Mike Bordin hammering seven shades out of his kit – ‘Everything’s Ruined’, ‘Last Cup of Sorrow’ and ‘Digging The Grave’ find Mike Patton’s vocal range as versatile and immense as ever.

Another, more obviously anticipated,  sing-along is ‘Easy’, which is followed by the epic ‘Epic’, before ‘The Gentle Art of Making Enemies’, ‘King for a Day’ and a sublime ‘Ashes to Ashes’ make way for the finishing number ‘Just a Man’, when Hammersmith is blindsided into a chorus of Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’!

Encore time and we are treated to ancient material from the first FNM, quarter century old, vinyl only album ‘We Care a Lot’, with the rampant instrumental ‘Pills For Breakfast’, and the first performance of ‘Greed’ for 22 years.

For a moment I think I’m seeing things, but no, that is Danny DeVito sat to the side of Mike Bordin’s kit, furiously air-drumming along .. before ‘We Care A Lot’, and for the fifth time in 25 years: ‘Why Do You Bother?’ .. and then BLAM! .. It’s all over.

I leave London town in awe of the fact that I had chance to see one of my favourite bands of all time for a third time tonight, they were awesome. I’m ecstatic, but I’m sad, so happy, yet mad. Because like all great things, the night came and went so damn fast.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston

Faith No More