Faith No More was one of my favorite bands when I was younger and are still one of my favorite bands of all time. I got to see them live once in 1992 (opening for Guns N' Roses and Metallica's stadium tour) before they eventually broke up in 1998. Last year they announced that they were reuniting....but only playing the European festival circuit. Rumors swirled that they were planning to hit the U.S. eventually and alas a date in their hometown of San Francisco was finally announced earlier this year for April 14th (and subsequently two additional dates were added for the 12th and 13th). Having wanted to take a vacation anyway, I figured centering a trip to San Fran around seeing Faith No More seemed like as good idea as any.
And boy was it ever a good idea...
We arrived at the venue around 9pm which was well ahead of FNM's announced onstage time of 10pm. We did not want to miss even a 1/4 of a note. After standing in a lengthy merch line to pick up some t-shirts, we entered the venue and found ourselves a good spot right next to the bar with a relatively unobstructed view of the stage. A few minutes after we got inside the performance area, the direct support act took the stage....the El Camino High School Cheerleaders. And that is not some silly band name, they were literally high school cheerleaders. They came out and did a high school cheerleader pep rally routine for about 20 minutes and then left the stage. [While they were performing, we were speculating whether or not they would go into a "Be Aggressive" chant (Be Aggressive! B-E Aggressive! B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!) that is used in the song of the same name by Faith No More and whether the band would take the stage during said chant and use that as their intro to kick into a performance of that song to open their show. Considering that song is about oral sex, we decided that would be beyond creepy, in poor taste, most likely an arrestable offense and therefore probably not what was going to happen.]
About a half hour later while still scratching our heads over seeing a high school cheerleading squad open for Faith No More, an odd looking man in a tuxedo took the stage. I would later come to find out that his name is Neil Hamburger and that he has opened for the likes of NOFX, Bad Religion and Puscifer in the past. He did a series of funny albeit slightly off color jokes about Michael Jackson (and even got a jab at Farrah Fawcett in there) all the while heckling the audience. Neil then informed the crowd that Faith No More would not take the stage until we had chanted 'Smash Mouth' (as in the band) 100 times. He started the chant and after the second or third time the crowd had settled into a loud response of 'Fuck You' for every 'Smash Mouth' chant of his. I was really beginning to think he might just take it all the way to 100, but mercifully he stopped at 20 and introduced the evening's main attraction....
Being familiar with the setlists FNM had been playing on last year's European festival circuit, I wasn't expecting many surprises from tonight's set. I was fully expecting them to open with the Peaches & Herb cover "Reunited" and that is exactly what they did. Faith No More of course made this cover work perfectly and it was a good warm up for the onslaught of killer songs that would follow immediately after: "From Out Of Nowhere" into "Land Of Sunshine" into "Caffeine" into "Evidence" into "The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies" into "Chinese Arithmetic" (which featured a brilliant minute plus cover of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" as the intro) into "Last Cup Of Sorrow" into "Cuckoo For Caca" before playing a song I did not recognize at all which turned out to be a cover of "Ben" by the butt of Neil Hamburger's jokes, Michael Jackson. I wouldn't say the MJ cover was bad, but the best part was when it was over and they picked up the pace again with "Ashes To Ashes" into "Midlife Crisis" into "Digging The Grave" into "King For A Day" into "Epic" (I was actually surprised they played this as they seem like the type of band that would leave their obvious hit out of the setlist which would certainly not bother their hardcore fanbase) into what was probably my favorite song of the night "Just A Man".
The band then left the stage and Neil Hamburger reappeared shortly thereafter with a couple Courtney Love jokes for the audience. He then reintroduced the band and they kicked into their pre-Mike Patton era song "As The Worm Turns" and suddenly Mike Patton walked off the stage and on walked this sort of punk rock looking version of George Clinton and once he started singing it hit the audience that FNM's original singer Chuck Mosley was now onstage with the band. They went through three other songs from FNM's first two albums on which he sang ("Death March", "We Care A Lot" and "Mark Bowen") and then Chuck left the stage. While it was very cool to be there to witness this reunion (this was the first time Mosley had been onstage with them since 1988), I wasn't particularly blown away by it. Faith No More has been and always will be about the years with Mike Patton. Mosley isn't a particularly great singer and they would never have reached the heights of popularity that they did with him in the band. Anyway, Patton rejoined the band for "Stripsearch" and then Mosley came back out and dueted with Patton on "Introduce Yourself" to close the show.
I am still grinning from ear to ear about this show (and the overall awesome time I had in San Fran with my girlfriend, family and friends...very fun city) and cannot wait for the two shows in Brooklyn in July (one of which I have tickets for and the other for which I hope to obtain a ticket for tomorrow).
"Land Of Sunshine"
"The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies"
"From Out Of Nowhere"