With a stage dressed all in white – backdrop, speakers, monitors, mic stands – London’s Hammersmith Apollo was full to the sweaty brim. The sold-out crowd whipped up a rocking atmosphere as the house lights finally went down and Faith No More walked out to a spine-tingling cheer.
Before the craziness got started the crowd was greeted by support act Guano Padano. The Italian three-piece, sounding like a cross between The Black Keys and one of Mike Patton’s more sedate side-projects, did a fine job of warming the crowd and the audience showed its appreciation with enthusiastic applause.
Dressed to match their stage decor and surrounded by flowers (a set up I can’t decide was meant to be either heavenly or somehow funereal) Faith No More launched into Woodpecker From Mars bleeding into a Mike Patton introduction and rendition of Tom Jones’ Delilah. Drummer Mike Bordin blasted out his signature beats with severe authority and bassist Bill Gould locked in tight to his bandmate’s rhythms. By the time they kicked off Land Of Sunshine and Everything’s Ruined the crowd and band had relaxed from excited tension to relaxed party; fists were raised, heads were banging.
Roddy Bottum’s commanding stage presence and engaging smiles to the audience made both them and him realise just how much each had been missed during FNM’s years away; Bottum seemed genuinely in awe of what was in front of him, likewise the audience. No matter how long he has been or will be with the band, guitarist John Hudson will always be ‘the new guy’. He did his respectable best playing a sturdy, almost impeccable set.
As impressive as the rest of the band is, this is clearly Mike Patton Appreciation Evening. When he staggers onto the stage from behind a white-sheeted rack of Marshall amplifiers with a mock limp and cane towards the end of Woodpecker..., the crowds cheer deafens that of the appearance of the others minutes before. What he has lost or given up in the last twenty years by way of bouncing around the stage he has made up for in mastering all vocal styles; his ability to hold a note is still incredible. When Patton picked up his mic for Easy, Last Cup Of Sorrow and Just A Man he was met with a full-on sing-a-long by the audience at times drowning him out.
By the time Hudson cranked the opening riff to The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies, myself and the barrier-huggers down the front with me were suitably drenched in sweat and the sweet waft of the flowery stage. The show tonight was arranged after the Sonisphere festival – which Faith No More were due to headline – was cancelled in England. But they will always be a ‘personal’ band best viewed in a more intimate setting. The Hammermith Apollo was the perfect place to show we care a lot.