– Words by Jordan Buford / Photos by James Villa –
Paramount Theater – Seattle, WA / Thursday, April 16th, 2015
Six years. That’s how long Faith No More has been back in business after their original seventeen year run. Six years and there has been no proper North American tour. That’s not to say the San Francisco-based alt metal group hasn’t played the States, but those shows have been very few. That’s finally changing.
With Sol Invictus, the group’s seventh studio album and first since reforming, due out May 19th, the band was embarking on a North American run, which had begun the night before with a sold-out show in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Paramount Theater in Seattle, Washington was no different this night; and making the journey from Dallas to Seattle to see their first show on American soil of this tour definitely sounded worth it.
The show was sold-out and people were more than ready for this.
The venue was magnificent looking to the point alcohol was not allowed inside the showroom portion of the venue. The result was a throng of patrons hanging out in the lobby until around nine, when most began making their way in. Plenty of others were already there, meaning anything close to the vicinity of the stage was impossible to get. It continued to fill up, and while the Paramount still felt spacious enough, it was clearly packed as you stood in close proximity with one another.
The audience roared between some of the songs that blared out of the speakers. It stopped after some of them, giving the impression that FNM was about to take the stage. Everyone was clearly antsy; and when the lights finally dimmed and the house music truly cut out, the fanfare was earsplitting.
The stage was decked out in flowers. Some lined the front of the stage while others were scattered about, placed atop or close to the amps. In complete contrast to the elegant garden like feel that created, it was also hard to miss a disco ball hanging from the ceiling.
Roddy Bottum began singing their opening number which was the lead single from the forthcoming record, “Motherfucker”, the keyboardist soon sharing singing duty with frontman Mike Patton once he and the rest of the band took the stage. From head to toe they were all dressed in white. The tracks grand sounding soundscape gave it an excellent quality, making it a solid opener; while Patton somewhat knelt in front of the mic stand at times as he delivered the lyrics. Even though it was a new song everyone already seemed to be loving it; and they were merely stretching at this point.
“Thank you,” Patton said immediately after he sung the last line of their second song, before they really turned up the heat with “Caffeine”. The frontman had mostly relied on the mic stand during those first couple tracks, but now, he left it behind. Seeing the way he wielded the microphone, the way he often held it from the end and angled it down in front of his mouth, it made me realize how underutilized the microphone is with most acts. It’s like most vocalists use it like a utensil, as if there’s a proper way to hold it and that’s the only way. That’s not the case with Patton. What he was doing with it meets my classification of being out of the ordinary, and that’s one thing that sets him apart from the bulk of frontmen. The other key one is his voice. That song was a perfect example of how all over the place he can be, belting out some throaty screams at times, growling at other points and even nailing some lovely notes.
The entire night offered multiple samplings of the smorgasbord style.
Before moving any further, the singer asked what was new there in Seattle, being quick to point out that it had been twenty years since they were last there. Two decades. That’s a long time; and their fans from back then as well as the new ones had come out in force, many singing along with “Ricochet”, a very appropriate song in this city, considering it happened to be written the day of Kurt Cobain’s death.
Just six songs in and the audience was treated to what all would consider to be a highlight of the show: “Epic”. The often hip-hop sounding style Patton adopted during it sounded as good as it does on the recording from years ago; and there was an awesome moment on the song after where a crowd surfer was lifted into the air, wheelchair and all. That was epic!
They had torn through one song minus Bottum, who was still out there, though his keys weren’t heard, and he quipped they may come back to the song later in the night so everyone could hear what it was like with the keys.
Mike Bordin got them going on another cut off Angel Dust, “Midlife Crisis”, which featured a fun breakdown to extend the song, along with them completely cutting out on the track, letting the fans scream during the silence that fell over the venue before picking back up with a funky bass solo courtesy of Billy Gould.
Guitarist Jon Hudson then took charge a few songs later. His chops had been noticeable, but became devastating as he ripped out some monstrous riffs on songs like “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies”; while a track they’ve been known to cover for quite some time, The Commodores’ “Easy”, offered an intriguing counterbalance, earning the band a few lighters being waved around in the air.
A few more songs followed before they wrapped their 68-minute long set in the same fashion they had begun it: with a new song, namely, “Superhero”. With such a diverse palette, it has no trouble fitting into the Faith No More repertoire, even sounding like the classics of theirs do; and once it was all said and done, the entire band stayed on stage for a few moments, bowing and expressing their gratitude before taking their leave.
An encore was expected as far as the fans were concerned. Few left, and the chants sounded like they had to be answered, though whether they would or not remained to be seen.
Eventually, they were, and the title track of this new album came sandwiched between an unexpected rendition of Burt Bacharach’s “This Guy’s In Love with You”, which offered the most tranquil moment of the show; and despite it being an odd song even for FNM, they had no trouble pulling it off to work to their advantage. They then left with what Bottum noted was an odd title for a song, though it was just how they named songs back in their younger days. By younger days I mean they took everyone back to their debut album from 1985, doing “Mark Bowen”, a song named after their first guitarist, whom they said was in attendance this night.
It was heavy and tight, a perfect way to end the show.
Obviously, I had never seen Faith No More prior to this. Honestly, sans a couple songs, I hadn’t even listened too much of their stuff. It didn’t take any time for me to begin banging my head around to the music and getting totally caught up in it, though. It was incredibly easy to get into, just having a certain quality that allowed it to easily take a hold on you; while the performance was nothing less than riveting, with the guys giving it their all the entire time they were up there.
It was impressive, and I think everyone felt that way.
They provided some laughs here and there with their stage banter and rocked like no other. All I know is their summer tour can’t get here quick enough; and by then, I will make sure I’m well-versed in their songs.
Land of Sunshine
Sunny Side Up
Last Cup of Sorrow
The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
King for a Day
Ashes to Ashes
This Guy’s in Love With You
(Burt Bacharach cover)
Cone Of Shame