Faith No More @ O2 Academy, 14 June

Live Review by Dave Kerr | 20 Jun 2015

It’s a strange billing on paper: Bristolian post-punk progenitors support San Franciscan metal mavericks – two bands that didn’t simultaneously exist the first time around. But like an anglicised Talking Heads coming apart at the seams, The Pop Group’s politicised funk reaches through time and space to jive surprisingly well with our hosts.

“This is getting old and so are you,” Mike Patton intones midway through Faith No More’s first Glasgow gig in 18 years. Not some antagonistic observation as he looks around both sold-out tiers of the Academy, but a lyric from the group's original 1997 ‘swansong’, Album of the Year – a work overcome by a sense of finality that seemed impossible to come back from. They toured it as though dressed for a funeral. Yet here they are, celebrating the irony of their own resurrection. "You guys remember the Barrowlands?" he asks, recalling a four night residency at the spring-floored institution where the crowd can topple the speaker stacks on a good night. "I think we should try that again."

An overzealous florist framed the stage while hippy anthems from bygone generations rung out over the PA before they walked on to slay it – flitting from The 5th Dimension’s cosmic sixties medley (Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In) to Primal Scream’s hedonistic beckoning (Loaded) in one easy crossfade – anyone on the outside of this very particular blend of humour might believe Patton’s men are on some new age crusade. Even the roadies are suited in angelic white; you picture the band pissing themselves behind the curtain before showtime.

Strolling on to the melancholy waltz of John Barry’s Midnight Cowboy theme, Patton joins keyboardist Roddy Bottum in rasping the sinister refrain to their return single as if they’re engaged in a voodoo prayer ritual: “Get the motherfucker on the phone.” It's all unfinished business; rather than shirk away from the elephant in the room by playing non-stop hits for cash, Faith No More have convincingly harpooned it with Sol Invictus – an unmistakably gothic and inventive record that still knows when to let the light in.  

A testament to such innovation, time has been remarkably kind to the back catalogue; Angel Dust’s opening salvo ushers in a propulsive and ultimately exhilarating set that straddles their funk-twisting youth, avant-metal mid-career and the mischievous, wilfully divergent streak that runs through it all.

The galloping Land of Sunshine, paired with Caffeine’s schizophrenic groove (enhanced by the undiminished power of Mike 'Puffy' Bordin) showcase a stylistic restlessness that continues to characterise the barbed (but deceptively poppy) attack of Superhero or Black Friday’s Link Wray conjuring proto rock’n’roll. “This is only a test,” Patton whispers on the latter – perhaps a man learning to be more careful with a lyric.