Fun Lovin' Criminals - Live Review
There’s nothing like the 20th anniversary of one of your favourite albums to make you feel old, but thankfully the Proustian effects of seeing that same album performed live in its entirety on a Friday night seem to reverse the aging process, making you feel as young as you were the first time you heard that glorious collection of songs.
The album I’m talking about is Come Find Yourself and an eager, sold out crowd is gathered in the majestic setting of Manchester Cathedral for an evening with The Fun Lovin’ Criminals.
These kind of anniversary shows are usually pretty special to begin with, giving loyal fans a rare treat and the venue in which tonight’s show is set only elevates the sense of occasion even further. And although there is definitely something to be said about the warm feeling of nostalgia provided by hearing the songs of one’s youth, the timelessness of FLC’s unique blend of rock, soul, hip-hop and jazz prevent tonight from being completely consumed by the wistful longing for a bygone era.
FLC’s fans may have aged two decades since Come Find Yourself first came out but songs like opener The Fun Lovin’ Criminal haven’t aged one bit. Passive/Aggressive with its schmoove, soulful verse and raunchy, overdriven chorus wonderfully represents the dichotomy of seeing a trio of renowned trouble causing party animals perform in a house of God.
Huey Morgan (a contender for the title of ‘Coolest Guy on The Planet’) and his cohorts Brian ‘Fast’ Leiser and Frank Benbini are in fine spirits. Quite literally; between songs their ever capable stage crew keep the band topped up with cocktails and shots brought out on silver trays, which they quaff whilst laughing and joking with each other – and the crowd – like the old friends they are.
It goes without saying that track four (as it’s introduced by Huey) or Scooby Snacks as it’s more commonly known is one of the highlights of the evening and from here on in the crowd’s dancing shoes are firmly on.
One thing that is especially evident from seeing FLC play these songs live is the effortless musicianship that the trio possess. During the set Fast alternates between playing keys, bass, trumpet, French horn and he even does a spot of MCing during Bombin The L. And Huey can truly shred on guitar when he wants to. Yes, his gravelly voice might be more suited to rapping than singing but his baritone is perfectly suited to the Satchmo cover We Have All The Time In The World. It’s a beautiful moment, made all the more special by tonight’s surroundings.
After a few more of Come Find Yourself’s lesser-aired tracks are given what is likely their first outing in decades, the first set comes to end with a haze inducing rendition of closer Methadonia. After a short break the band return with their debut’s latin-tinged bonus track Coney Island Girl, after which they treat the crowd to a couple of choice cuts from their second-most-popular album, 100% Columbian. Korean Bodega is by far the liveliest track of the evening but it’s their ode to the late, great Barry White, Love Unlimited which gets the biggest singalong of the evening.
And if there’s one song of the evening where it is really deliciously wrong that it’s being performed in a church, it’s Big Night Out, with its lyrics about taking cocaine and shagging supermodels, made all the more absurd by its gospel-style ending refrain. As Huey said, we’re all probably due a few Hail Mary’s by the end such an incredible evening.
Words by Adam Robertshaw / Photos: Anthony Firmin