Because of a ticket snafu I missed the first five songs of Faith No More’s set last night.
I’m a long time FNM fan – a friend of mine early in high school bought The Real Thing based on, of course, the breakout single ‘Epic‘ right around the time I witnessed them perform on Saturday Night Live in… wait, let me look it up… 1990! Whoah!* But somehow it has long been my regret that I have never seen the band live.
I saw Mr. Bungle quite a few times.
And quite a few other Patton-related projects. And the reason, as Patton-heads will know, that people often refer to Patton-projects in the past tense is because the man hits it and quits it. He is not one to linger on a project if he believes it has gone stall, so the fact that I even got a another chance to see FNM, roughly 13 years afters the release of their final album and tour, is pretty freakin’ amazing.
And I missed part of it.
So as I pulled into the parking log across the street from The Hollywood Palladium I was listening to the band’s album King For A Day Fool For A Lifetime and I had a weird moment where the track ‘Evidence‘ seemed to resurface on the stereo over its preceding track until I realized I was hearing the song from inside the club. Reinvigorated by the fact that they were playing one of my favorite songs off what is most likely my favorite album** I parked quickly and began to hurry for the building.
The song finished, a swell of crowd noise echoed from the VIP Patio doors that were ajar to allow it’s patrons to smoke on the outside veranda, and then ‘Got That Feeling‘ off Album of the Year kicked in.
Once I got inside the club the band slammed hard into another track from the above album, this time the short-lived-but-brilliant single ‘Last Cup of Sorrow‘.
I was in heaven. I was late, but I was in heaven.
The stage was impressively dressed in a purple backdrop curtain and gorgeous purple lights, all the right accents and trim bringing the five band members, all also impressively dressed in variations of what can only be contradictorally called ‘Casual-Formal’, to the forefront in an aesthetically pleasing lineup. The sound was fantastically mixed and would eventually even prove to be so loud at times that I slightly regretted not bringing earplugs despite a friend having warned me to do so after the show he saw the night before. But I didn’t care, Patton screamed, the Billy Gould’s bass thumped and popped and I was in heaven.
I moved closer.
With a set list that ranged from obscure classic to undeniable single and a to-the-crowd banter that charmed as well as endeared, especially from Patton and keyboard player Roddy Bottum who seemed like long-time friends just reunited over drinks, the band put a smile on every face in the crowd repeatedly. I’ve added a link to one of my favorite music websites below, Brooklyn Vegan, who had a mind-bendingly thorough cataloging of the two-night stint of these timeless heroes that includes full set lists, photos and video. Highlights of the pre-encore Wednesday night set were the heavy-as-all-hell ‘Cuckoo For Caca‘, the tender and driving ‘Helpless‘, the title track from King for a Day… and a cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Ben‘, not to mention a Barry White cover Patton aptly sang to the crowd while gesticulating lovingly, ‘Let’s Just Kiss and Say Goodbye‘. Oh yeah, and at one point while trying to decide what to play next drummer Mike Bordin stood up and went to take a leak. Patton embellished the moment by calling on the crowd for a drummer and when dozens of hands went up actually pulled one guy, Rich his name was, from the crowd and the band jammed with the dude for about three minutes.
Can you imagine having that story to tell?
However, as grand as everything else was, the biggest bowl-over of the night was to arrive at the beginning of the first encore. With the stage pitch black a lighthearted piano riff began and a spot light appeared on a man onstage who most assuredly was not one of the five members of FNM. My brain lagged for a few minutes as the piano unfolded and became accompanied by lyrics. Lyrics not sung by Patton.
“Holy fuck,” I thought suddenly engrossed by excitement, realization literally almost knocking me over where I stood even as the stage went ablaze in lights that now showed there to be a total of three extra people on stage, the initial the keyboarder (who still had hardly moved anything other than his fingers over the keys, back-and-forthing with Bottum), the singer and another guitarist. The atmosphere exploded as Patton began to trade off the call-and-answer lyrics.
Sparks. They had brought long-time friends and one-time collaborators Sparks on stage and were performing the operatic masterpiece ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us‘.***
I howled in near-bestial approval, screaming my lungs out in total surprised elation. And the extra guitarist on stage was Dean Menta, the one-time tech who took up touring and video-starring duties after original guitarist Jim Martin and before John Hudson (who by the way sounded great on guitar).
Follow the link, watch the videos – this was one of my top three shows of a lifetime I think, and I’ve been to more shows than I could ever hope to remember. And although Patton assured the crowd that, aside from the upcoming date(s?) in Chile the band, after ‘tonight’ would “cease to exist” I for one can only hope that the obviously renewed fun and camaraderie the guys displayed on stage at the Palladium will lead to at least another string of dates, if not (gasp<hope>gasp) a new album.****
Thank you Faith No More. I blow you a kiss and say goodbye… for now.
Here’s that wonderful website with all the goodies:
* The one where while playing ‘From Out Of Nowhere‘ Patton crawled into the giant fan in the background of the set.
** But then again that’s hard to say because there is not one song by Patton-helmed Faith that I do not LOVE.
*** Check them out!!! http://allsparks.com/
**** Normally I rather strictly adhere to the ‘you can’t go home again’ rule of thumb, which is why I’ve avoided seeing any Pixies tours in the last ten years despite my love for their music and Mr. Black Francis, but with Faith I think it would really work well. And I can only imagine, with the refining of skills and perspective, especially in Patton, what a new post-2010 FNM album would hold.