Faith No More | Sony Centre, Toronto - May 9th 2015
Faith No More's North American / Canadian 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 twelfth date was on Saturday May 9th at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.
Faith No More's return to Toronto after a 20-year absence was a welcome one, with their current tour being their first major outing through North America since they reformed in 2009. They played a few scattered dates in the United States in 2010, but never made it up to Canada until now. The band's performance reaffirmed why their cult status has steadily increased long after their initial demise and offered a taste of what's to come from their forthcoming record, Sol Invictus. The show, one of the headlining acts of this year's Canadian Music Week, seemed only to be associated with the festival in name and not much else. There was no visible signage, and it didn't adhere to the time slot the band had been given. The packed house was getting visibly and audibly restless, but it turned to sheer elation when Roddy Bottum, Billy Gould, Mike Bordin, Mike Patton and Jon Hudson took their places. The front of the stage, as well as the band's amps and risers, were lined with bouquets of flowers, leaving the Sony Centre looking a bit like a funeral home. That might seem morbid, but the aesthetic worked both as a throwback to their goth-y origins (see: Faith No Man) and reinforced much of their new album, Sol Invictus', tongue-in-cheek lyrical fixation on the band's resurrection ("Matador," "From The Dead"). Some of those new songs already have a history on the road, having crept their way out into the band's sets last summer. "Motherfucker" and "Superhero" were the first concrete evidence of Faith No More's newfound creativity, and as bookends to their set on Saturday night (May 9), had just as much venom in their bite as cuts from earlier albums like Angel Dust and King For A Day, Fool For a Lifetime. The band gelled around songs both old and new, with each performer sounding in their prime. It was hard to not to devote most attention to the very animated Patton, whose vocal gymnastics kept the songs feeling unhinged, but Bordin came out ahead as the band's secret weapon behind the kit. In a musical climate when reunions are now just an expectation, Faith No More's return speaks to their enduring relevance as musical scatterbrains, falling under the "alternative metal" category, but teasing out funk, R&B, and jazz in the process. The almost sinister "Midlife Crisis" was played note-for-note at first, but then gave way to a much looser, funkier version, only to segue into a take on Boz Scaggs' "Lowdown." At the end of their set, Patton sounded bewildered, saying, "It's kinda weird you're still into us." But Faith No More's playful drive to fold genres and time in over themselves is what makes the band so engaging to watch, and is key to their ability to be subversive and relevant even 20 years later.
After a tight but under-appreciated opening performance by LA-based band Le Butcherettes (by way of Mexico), The Toronto Sony Centre stage was cleared and then adorned with numerous rectangular planters filled with fresh flowers. Then Roddy Bottum, Billy Gould, Mike Bordin, Mike Patton and Jon Hudson took the stage to a howling audience and blew everyone’s minds with their musical prowess over the course of 18 songs and 100 minutes of performance time. It’s been twenty years since the last time Faith No More performed in Toronto, and the audience this evening illustrated this, comprised of die-hard fans old and new, eager to see the band in the flesh once again. Any concerns over FNM being a little rusty after all these years were quashed completely by the time opening song ‘Motherfucker’ was at its crescendo. Patton, crooning sound-perfect with his arms out to the crowd, consummate perfectionist that he is, hit every damn song out of the park starting with this epic track from their upcoming album Sol Invictus. Roddy Bottum, Billy Gould, Mike Bordin and Jon Hudson, the rest of Faith No More (and the musicians behind the band’s last commercial release, 1997’s Album Of The Year) were firing on all pistons for this performance. This show likely could have been in a venue twice to three times the size of the Sony Centre – selling out in minutes on the day of the public sale. This evening’s show was a part of a mid-sized venue re-introduction to Faith No More, with the band performing in similar rooms across the continent. These performances have allowed them to showcase their vast back-catalog of excellent material along with a taste of what’s to come when Sol Invictus sees its release in a couple of weeks. The set list was a cherry-picked assembly of some of the finer material, and four new songs that I have to say fit in seamlessly with their old hits. Never a band to back away from an eclectic cover version, Faith No More performed their stellar renditions of the Commodores ‘Easy’ and the Bee Gee’s ‘I Started a Joke’ to warm reception. They also stopped ‘Midlife Crisis’ 2/3rds of the way through and rendered the song to Boz Scaggs’ ‘Lowdown’ before bringing it to conclusion in its original studio-recorded fashion. The real challenge (for me) would be picking the highlights to describe, as I enjoyed every song played immensely. ‘Last Cup of Sorrow’ and ‘Ashes to Ashes’, two of my favourite Faith No More songs were included this evening and were performed perfectly. Patton snarling into his microphone through the gnarly parts of ‘Caffeine’ totally sent a shiver up my spine, as did ‘Land of Sunshine’, delivered in parts with Patton screaming through a bright red megaphone. Lumped into the category of ‘metal’, Faith No More has always been more of a ‘Thinking Man’s’ rock band. The musicianship and raw talent seeping through their 1990 catalog of albums, Angel Dust, King For a Day… Fool For A Lifetime and Album Of The Year have become a thing of musical lore with each passing year. Each of these respective albums is revered amongst musicians and fans for the eclectic mix of song-craft and musical prowess permeating each of these releases. I could have happily sat through a second set of completely different songs from Faith No More on this evening had the band been willing to accommodate. Fortunately, Faith No More is booked back in Toronto at Ricoh Coliseum on August 7th with Refused opening up for them. I’m sure most of the people at Sony Centre for this show will be going back to see the band again in three months. Throughout the evening Patton stated that it was “like being at a high school reunion”. He acknowledged that Faith No More had been away for far too long and seemed genuinely humbled that their fan base was still intact. He commented that it was “kinda weird you’re still into us.” Towards the end of their set, he took the time to repeatedly point attention to a heavy-set fellow who spent the duration of the band’s performance air-drumming like a madman, center orchestra about ten rows from the stage. Patton called him out a few times, and Mike Bourdin made sure that a stage hand delivered his drumsticks to this fan as the band wrapped up their performance. This show was excellent. Almost criminal, really, being able to see such a wonderful band in a venue this size. Perhaps that’s the majority of the reason that the vibe in the room was so kinetic.
It’s it! What is it? The call and response segment of Faith No More‘s hit Epic sounds like their meeting that brought the band together. Someone somewhere must have had a damn good reason to bring the gang back (their fixed line up from the mid nineties until they disbanded), because there was a show at the Sony Centre in Toronto that was performed by a band who was tight and at it for years (not a band who have reunited after over a decade of not being together). There’s a new album due this month, but this most certainly was not a promotional show for said release. This was an entertaining work of near-fantasy that truly brought creativity and talent to the forefront. Opening the night was Mexican garage punk group Le Butcherettes. Led by front woman Teri Gender Bender, the trio dawned blood red robes and pranced around the stage. Their set was surprisingly fitting for Faith No More. Then it was time. The set was caked in layers of bright white. This pure icing was cloaked underneath dark shadows and black lights, and thus everything glowed with a neon blue haze. There were pastel coloured bouquets of flowers planted everywhere on the stage. We were stuck looking at this bizarre-but-calming display for a while before the band came on. Luckily, Faith No More fans have to be some of the most entertaining out of any group I have ever witnessed. Some people were so drunk before the show even began that they sat in the wrong seats and had to be forced out, they cheered on the Blue Jays (not the right venue or time) and they were stumbling all over the aisles. There was a wide range of people young and old cling wrapped in their band t-shirts. Clearly, Faith No More have affected many and their reunion was a huge cause for a celebration. The band came out in all white, and they were engulfed by the lights that dominated the white sets as well. Whatever colour the set had projected onto it, so did the band members. There were moments where the band was shut out in the dark but their coloured clothes remained with the tinted sets. It was a surreal set that clearly had much thought put into it. The band played a huge array of hits, from old material and even from their new album. Songs transitioned nicely into each other, and this is not an easy accomplishment when you’re a part of any Mike Patton band (there’s a reason he’s known as the man with a thousand voices, and he almost always brings that variety into his bands). There was a large sense of professionalism. That is with the exception of Patton’s upsetting banter, which either made you cry of laughter or cry out his name in anger. Given that Faith No More’s show was a part of Canadian Music Week, it was perhaps this factor that made Patton feel the need to poke fun at Canada. If you’re a fan of Patton, it’s clear that almost anything he does outside of his actual music is in jest. That still didn’t prevent some people from jeering. Well, this writer was having the time of his life. I will rank the Patton-isms of the night that are worth noting: 5: The moment where Mike Patton pointed to the balcony, yelled “this goes out to those of you in the cheap seats” and proceeded to sway his arm and dance in a Backstreet Boy way while people reacted with anger. 4: After a well known cover of Easy Like Sunday Morning by Lionel Richie, Patton quickly squashed the mood by saying this moment made the evening feel like some “high school dance shit”. 3: Once Patton noticed a fan in a green shirt air drumming, he pointed him out and said he was worth checking out. That fan proceeded to take off his shirt, which had Patton quickly suggesting that the fan put his shirt back on. A while later, Patton pointed out that man again and ordered him to take off his shirt. This resulted in what seemed like a spur-of-the-moment song where Patton repeated to scream “suck my dick” into the microphone. 2: Patton expressed his surprise that anyone was still here, as he felt we had some “hockey shit” to attend to. He then asked if it was curling that we were interested in, instead. He proceeded to repeat the word “curling” with an antagonizing curl of the noun to prod us even more. 1: Once a discussion of doing cocaine at prom commenced, Patton asked us Canadians what we did at prom instead: “Do you have incest at prom?”. The crowd’s reaction was so harsh that Patton had to calm us down by reminding us that he was “just kidding”. Nobody was too hurt, though. Many fans kept trying to rush to the front of the theater to see the band as close as possible. They even tried to encourage me, by tapping my shoulder and trying to pull me along. I don’t blame them, as everything about this set was noteworthy. Everyone was on top of their game musically, the set was stunning, the banter was definitely memorable and the song selection was a breathing greatest hits record. Faith No More got back together only when they knew how they would continue as a band with power, and they most certainly showed that last night.
Motherfucker Land of Sunshine Caffeine Evidence Epic Sunny Side Up Get Out Midlife Crisis Last Cup of Sorrow The Gentle Art of Making Enemies Easy [ Commodores ] Be Aggressive King for a Day Ashes to Ashes Superhero Matador Digging the Grave I Started a Joke [ Bee Gees ]