Enjoy this first review from my 2014 Toronto Record Store Excursion with Aaron!
“Faith No More 2.0. New software; same old shit. Enjoy!” — Mike Patton
Faith No More have long been one of those bands who never really got their due. Without Faith No More, you’d have no Korn, Disturbed, or System of a Down. Their influence is best measured in the numerous bands who followed in their wake. I’m proud to have been a fan since first exposure (1990). When Faith No More broke up in ’98, I thought they took the high road by being one of the few bands to say a reunion was not in the cards. Then, like all the other bands, that moment came and Faith No More gradually eased themselves back on the stage. Now they’re making a new album (a new single, the Tom Waits-ish “Motherfucker” is out November 28) and I think that’s just grand.
I was pleased to bits to find a live CD document of a European Faith No More reunion show. It was an obvious must-buy, but I was happy that it sounds so fucking good!
The CDs only flaw is that it begins abruptly, as if a few notes of the first song “Reunited” are cut off. This 1978 R&B hit displays a side of Faith No More that other bands fail to capture — their ability to play classic R&B and Disco perfectly. Mike Patton has the soul chops, and just enough weirdness to throw his own style in towards the end. They segue this perfectly into the hammering “From Out of Nowhere” from 1989’s The Real Thing. I’ll tell you something here — I don’t miss Jim Martin at all. At first, I was hoping (without grounds) that Martin would be a part of the reunion. The band instead (and logically) went with their most recent guitarist Jon Hudson, a well-rounded player who can do all eras of Faith No More equally convincing. This is apparent on the wah-wah drenched “Be Aggressive” from ’92. This sexually explicit shocker is just as undeniably catchy as it was back in the 90’s.
This being Germany, Patton can’t resist dropping the odd “scheisse”, before barking like a dog, on the epic “Caffeine”. This bizarre powerhouse has long been one of Faith No More’s most stunning trips into the void, and live it’s only more so. Without the studio effects on his voice, Mike Patton resorts to unorthodox techniques to give his voice the distortion and flexibility required. Vibrating his throat with his hand, for example, is one such method you can hear on “Caffeine”.
Some of the other incredible highlights included here are the slick Disco of “Evidence”, which Mike sings in Spanish! The piano-and-beatbox of “Chariots of Fire” is hilarious and cool. Patton’s vocal acrobatics are unearthly on “Surprise! You’re Dead!”. Same with “MidLife Crisis”. You either like the craziness Mike Patton injects live, or you don’t. If you don’t, then you’re probably not a Faith No More fan anyway. I also enjoy the funny rant about somebody throwing €1 at him during the same song. “How would you feel, if you were a stripper or something, and somebody threw one Euro. How would you feel?” A valid question.
The best tune is probably the apocalyptic “Gentle Art of Making Enemies”. I fully expected Mike Patton’s head to explode. I don’t know how can do what he does with just lungs and a throat. Not to be outshined is drummer Mike “Puffy” Bordin who keeps the train on the tracks for the whole show.
The band’s onstage banter is a little friendlier than it was back in the day, but still teasing. They are not as antagonistic as I’ve heard them in the past. But they sure are tight. Musically, there is no question that reuniting this lineup was 100% the right move. They are too versatile and just too damn good to stay broken up. The set list was a well balanced representation of the Patton years, with only one Chuck Mosely classic (“We Care A Lot”, which is the closer). There aren’t too many obvious hits missing. “A Small Victory”, perhaps, or “Falling to Pieces”.