Faith No More, Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, 22 February, 2010
With the band reforming in 2009 to many’s surprise, playing the UK’s Download Festival, we all jumped onto YouTube to watch the footage with the hope that 1. The reformation wouldn’t disappoint and 2. the band would include Australia in the itinerary for their “Second Coming” tour since they aren’t strangers to Australia, playing here in 1990, 1993, 1995 & 1997.
So when the Soundwave Festival announced the band were one of the headliners of the national festival, followed up by two sideshows – Sydney and Melbourne, saw eager fans snapping up tickets in minutes and tonight as I arrived at the Hordern the atmosphere was electric.
There are the usual bawdy ticket touts out the front enticing people with their outrageous asking prices, desperate fans who missed out boldly asking the stream of excited gig-goers for any spare tickets and fans of all ages (some obviously generations of families) make their way past security and into the cavernous Hordern Pavilion. I catch up with some friends who have travelled from Brisbane for the show and meet a crew of keen-beans who are travelling to the three sideshows and three Soundwaves.
Unlike the night before at Soundwave where he appeared on stage with a walking cane and a faux limp, tonight front man, Mike Patton surreptitiously appears, sitting down and quickly opens the set with a cover version of the theme to “Midnight Cowboy”. The band, again be-suited in all-white, with Patton in an impressive salmon-pink number proceeded to rip into a remarkable shiver-inducing version of “The Real Thing” sending the crowd into frenzied chaos.
Without much interaction with the heaving audience in the first part of the set, the extremely tight band – Mike Bordin still with his long dreadlocks captivating behind the kit, bassist Billy Gould mesmerising, the boisterous Roddy Bottum on keys and sort-of-newbie guitarist Jon Hudson (he replaced original guitarist, Jim Martin for their 1997 “Album of the Year” release) continue to serve us a plate of old and more recent – “Land of Sunshine”, “Caffeine”, slow down things a bit and allow us take a breath or two with the smooth “Evidence”. “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” reveals Patton’s trademark yelps, screams, his dynamic vocal range and voice-play come into light and don’t we all love a song that’s peppered with loads of swearwords?
“Last Cup of Sorrow”, “Ricochet” leads into the Commodores cover, “Easy” with the Patton inviting the crowd to join in the chorus with, “Sydney, open your f&*ken traps!” “Midlife Crisis” included a snippet of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” – with the audience giving the megaphone-wielding Patton what he asked for, the capacity crowd shouting the whole chorus.
Time seemed to disappear with the band rolling off favourite after favourite “Epic”, “I Started a Joke”, Surprise! You’re Dead!”, “A Small Victory”, “Ashes to Ashes”, “Just a Man” and before we knew it the band are thanking us and wishing us goodnight.
It seemed like the roof was going to lift off with the cheers and chanting for more and the boys in white and salmon-pink trundled back on-stage.
Bottum thanks the crowd, with Patton chiming in, “You guys are from f*&king Sydney! And we like it here! We’re moving here! Can we be your house band?” The crowd roars and the band kicks into the first of two encores. Encore one: “Edge of the World” and “Digging the Grave”. Encore two starts with the rarely played “Introduce Yourself” off the band’s second album with vocalist, Chuck Mosely and the near two-hour set is wound up with another cover version, this time from American band, Sparks and their tune “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us”.
Faith No More two nights in a row seems too good to be true. Tonight’s longer, varied and near perfect set with nearly everyone I see outside loitering for cabs or winding down over a post-gig beverage or two claiming “best gig of the year!” It just goes to show you with age and experience, Faith No More are just like a fine wine - complex, alluring and very, very more-ish.
Words: Monika Lackmann Photo: Rod Hunt / Rod Hunt Photography