Wednesday, May 13, 2015

LIVE REVIEW - Faith No More, The Orpheum Theatre (Boston, MA) 5/11/15

Photo by Joel Gausten

First of all, how mind-blowing is it that Faith No More's history dates back nearly 35 years at this point? Almost decade-old veterans by the time they finally broke into the mainstream with 1989's The Real Thing, Faith No More offered a wild ride of unbridled ideas that helped usher in the Alternative explosion of the '90s. The massive success of the band's experimental sound signified a major cultural shift in mainstream music where a band as decidedly out there as this could actually sell millions of albums. (It was a wondrous time, wasn't it?) Returning in 2009 after an 11-year break, the band has successfully maintained their status as the ultimate example of how to balance commercial success with what the fuck? eclecticism.

Naturally, the band's May 11 performance at Boston's Orpheum Theatre was esoteric from the moment the pre-show music (a gloriously odd assortment of tunes that included “Moon River”) died down and the crowd roared. Decked out in white, the band hit the flower-covered stage with “Motherfucker,” one of the many instantly unforgettable songs featured on the upcoming (and absolutely arresting) reunion disc, Sol Invictus. It got better and better from there: Drummer Mike Bordin and bassist Billy Gould locked in as only a decades-long partnership could, while frontman Mike Patton's vocal acrobatics and playful audience antagonism was an enthralling as expected.

Admirably, the group developed a set list that played to their greatest strengths: While “Epic,” “Surprise! You're Dead!” and their classic rendition of The Commodores' “Easy” were expected highlights, the band earned full marks for delivering deeper, less accessible cuts like the 30-year-old “Mark Bowen” and two songs (“Last Cup Of Sorrow,” an amazing “Ashes To Ashes”) from 1997's still-brilliant (and often-overlooked) Album Of The Year. And there's something truly beautiful in the sight of bald, bearded Metal bros cheering the group's cheeky cover of The Bee Gees' “I Started A Joke.”

Looking around the Orpheum, it was difficult to ignore the many wide smiles in the crowd - the result of not only nostalgia, but of genuine excitement to once again take in something they simply can't with any other band. It must be gratifying for Patton and Co. to come back after such a long time away and have an entire theatre sing a verse of “Personality Crisis.” While a good chunk of their '90s peers failed to survive the ensuing years, Faith No More's return has reminded us all of the immortal power of a truly extraordinary song.

Faith No More's late '80s/early '90s arrival in the major leagues was a high point in an era defined by an impressive array of acts (Voivod, Living Colour, Prong, Soundgarden, Primus, the criminally ignored Mordred) that pushed Metal into new territories. Twenty-six years (!!) after The Real Thing infiltrated suburbia and widened the genre's vocabulary, the band is still one step ahead of the rest of us – and trying to catch up to them is still a joyous listening experience.

Official Faith No More Website


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