Review and Photos by Mike Bax
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.
Land of Sunshine
Sunny Side Up
Midlife Crisis (w Boz Scaggs – ‘Lowdown’ mid-section)
Last Cup of Sorrow
The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
Easy (Lionel Ritchie/Commodores cover)
King for a Day
Ashes to Ashes
Digging the Grave
I Started a Joke (Bee Gees cover)