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’, aka we are rickrolled!

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

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