Faith No More | Electric Factory, Philadelphia - May 15th 2015
Updated: May 26
Faith No More's North American tour in support of Sol Invictus was five years ago.
FNM began their Sol Invictus tour in Japan and Australia, they returned to the USA for the first time since October 1997 in April 2015. The sixteenth date was on Friday May 15th at Electric Factory in Philadelphia.
Fans stood waiting for what felt like forever on May 15th, 2015 at The Electric Factory in Philadelphia, but none of that would matter soon. This was the moment where we were finally going to see Faith No More live after years of hiatus other than a few select shows. We were ready. The background music set the mood before the performance. An eclectic mix of slow jazz and vintage show tunes. The crowd stood and watched as roadies set up the white amps and flowers on stage while tracks like Moon River by Andy Williams’s played softly throughout the venue. As the pre-concert music faded and the lights went down, the crowd went crazy. Then the whispering began. “Get the motherfucker on the phone, on the phone… Get the motherfucker on the phone.” The lights flooded the stage as the music blared and this Faith No More performance exploded into a wave of light and chaos. As one of the most prolific alternative rock bands of this generation, Faith No More reminded us why we have all been long time fans for years. This was the culmination for me. Having seen Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, and Mike Patton solo, I had waited a very long time to see the band that pioneered one of the most unique sounds in the genre. They did not disappoint. Abstract in their Rockwell-esque white attire and a set made entirely of white paint, white sheets and pastel flowers, Faith No More flowed between hard and soft effortlessly. They pounded out hits, new tracks, and even a few well received covers. You could see that the crowd was intoxicated with the performance. Everyone was hanging on to every word blasted from Mike’s trademark megaphone. There was a clear swell as Epic was played, but the best part was that it wasn’t overstated. It wasn’t a finale or encore. They played it as the fifth song and moved on, leaving room for the whole rest of the set to move you for the remainder of the show. Their interactions with the crowd were natural and playful. At times they had everyone singing along and at others Mike Patton would stop the show to ask if it was English we were singing back to him. Specifically during their incredible modified version of Midlife Crisis, where after the crowd had sung as much as they could, the band transformed their song into a mix of Dirty Lowdown by Bozz Skags and layed the words to Midlife Crisis perfectly on top of it. This was the show of a lifetime, ending with their newest track Superhero before coming back and doing a three song encore of more fan favorites. If there was ever a question of if the experience would still be the same for long time fans, I’m here to tell you that Faith No More is as brilliant as ever. They stand on their own as one of the greatest gifts the 90s grunge era ever gave to us. And we were privileged to have a chance to witness it. Do we still care about a band still belting out songs written 20 years ago? The answer is a resounding yes. We care a lot.
Mid-way through their set in Philadelphia on May 15, 2015, Faith No More pulled out a surprise cover of the Commodores Easy. More than anything else that night, it underscored the kind of high-intellect hi-jinx that serves as their bread and butter. Of course, the show was their last show of their first tour in over a dozen years, and frontman Mike Patton made sure to point out we made an album because we decided to go on tour, we didn't go on tour because we made an album. But, even though this was comeback tour, the band didn't go for the usual greatest hits set, as was noted by them bringing "Easy" back out from retirement, it having previously appeared on Angel Dust. When they suddenly launched into Lionel Richie's smooth croon tune, the played it straight. For one thing, they juggled the funkiness and velvetiness as well as the Commodores themselves, showing that like the 70's funk heroes, Faith No More are a band that plays from the soul, not the fingers. Second, it showed that the band isn't interested in boundaries, be they genre, race, or otherwise. Why can't a posse of five white guys from San Francisco do a legit version of a soul classic? Third, it showed the incredible range of frontman Mike Patton. His voice has been praised more times than the sun, but it's worth doing again. Patton spent most of the night just screaming his lungs out, but on the Commodores cover, he gave Richie a run for his money with a delicate, gentle, cooing performance. If anything, it seems as though Patton has five or six voice boxes in that system that he can alternate at will. The fact that this guy still has both his scream and croon and in mint condition after 26 years just goes to show that he must be a savant. Likewise, the band played it heavy on their upcoming album Sol Invictus and it's good they did. The new songs are much more atmospheric and brooding than the older punk-funk-metal stompers and the new slow burn serves them well. They opened with Motherfucker which is a single, sinister, operatic crescendo. It's tempting to call the tune a darker version of We will rock you, but as the band took to the stage, all decked out in marching white ensembles and surrounded by flowers draped across the stage, the band, suave as they were, seemed to have a sort of vicious Roxy Music vibe going. There is frightfully biting commentary here, but the band cuts deeper with a controlled, tactical delivery than just jumping around for the sake of jumping around. The fact is, the new tunes work perfectly for the band at this stage in their career. They're neither abandoning their past nor are they just trying to copy what they did twenty years ago. Faith No More 2015 is a colder, steelier band than before and I'm glad they are. Keyboardist and founding member Roddy Bottum served as an excellent foil to Patton. Often interjecting his own commentary between songs, such as a brief recounting of the prom going on at the band's hotel, Bottum acted as sort of a nexus between the band and the audience. Despite the ambiguous nature of many of the band's songs, Bottum well placed yuks served as reminders that this kind of music is for dissection, as rocking as it might be. But, even more importantly, Bottum's keyboard served as the backbone for most of the new songs, playing a heavy hand in their new-ish dark, creepy, brooding tones. Maturing doesn't always mean getting Softer and Bottum underscored that with style. Circling back to the band's left field Commodores cover, they closed the show with their most famed cover, an unflinching version of the Bee Gees I started a joke. Once again, the band's range was on display and one wonders if the cover was just a cover, or something more. Who would have expected a band like Faith No More, who blend funk with metal with rap with punk with soul, to ever make it out of the garage, never-the-less onto some of the world's biggest stages. Patton did seem to linger on the refrain, I started a joke, which started the who world crying, but I didn't see that the joke was on me. Granted, Patton joined the band some seven or eight years into their career, but the principal seemed to overarch the whole group. Though, it must be mentioned that after the song's delicate, fading closing note, Patton immediately made a fart noise before leaving the stage. The Philadelphia crowd was wowed, and let me tell you, that's all you need to know. If you can win over the notoriously surly Philly audience, you can win over the Taliban. Get this band on a plane to the Middle East. World peace might be just a few days away.
Motherfucker Land of Sunshine Caffeine Evidence Epic Sunny Side Up Surprise! You're Dead! Midlife Crisis Everything's Ruined The Gentle Art of Making Enemies Easy [ Commodores ] We Care a Lot King For A Day Ashes To Ashes Superhero Sol Invictus Be Aggressive