Show Review: Faith No More at The Warfield, 4/12/10

by Christopher Rogers on April 14, 2010

Mike Patton, in charge.

Every so often, something positive will happen.

A puppy may cross your path. Sometimes, a meal will far exceed expectations. Occasionally, a friend will find someone who is a really wonderful match for themselves. These are all simple good things.

This year, my favorite band from when I was much younger decided to get back together.

Faith No More split genres wayyy back in the 1990s when there were still genres to be split. And when mixing genres was – by tradition – strictly frowned upon. Their music evolved through its initial funk-foundationed thrash-metal to become a ravening unafraid rock amalgam that outlived its initial commercial splash.

Their music spoke to me of possibility and release. It taught me that the mainstream could be subverted and even avoided in a time when its musical offerings were stagnant and un-dangerous. Faith No More was the beginning of my path away from what the normative was. This band’s efforts have indirectly changed my life for the better.

I was at their final San Francisco show at The Warfield on October 6, 1997 – and I was at their homecoming reunion show at The Warfield on April 12, 2010.

The audience began scream with gleeful anticipation immediately after the lights went down. Introduced by America’s Funnyman, Neil Hamburger, Faith No More took the stage wearing light pastel suits fit for a spring wedding or a spring funeral. Or both. Vocalist Mike Patton – perhaps in mocking deference to age – entered wielding a cane.

And to the assembled throng, the first song to wash over the theater was Peaches And Herb‘s “Reunited.” Oh, yes. Faith No More played this song irony-less (which of course made it far more ironic and poignant simultaneously) with mustache-sporting keyboardist Roddy Bottum and Patton trading verses as Patton gestured broadly with his cane. Laughter aplenty.

Then, they ripped into “From Out Of Nowhere,” and “Land Of Sunshine.” Proof manifested. This was no mere nostalgia kick; the music was sharp and vicious and nownownow! FNM had honed and toned their live attack during their triumphant “The Second Coming” tour that’d carried them through Europe, South America and Australia since June of 2009.  Throughout the performance it was immediately obvious how much fun the band was having as they careened through their canon.

Mike Patton gives one of his cat-like expressions

Bottum bent with each note he strove to hit with his fingers, and took occasion away from his keys to dance loose-limbed and pleased like a middle-aged married man at a family reunion (all of which applied indeed)

Billy Gould wrenched and slapped at his bass, contentedly snapped his head into the breakdown of the heavier songs

Guitarist Jon Hudson was as cool as the other side of the pillow. Both Swiss Army knife and Silver Surfer, he calmly cut an effortless swath through the wildly varying epochs of FNM's sound. No easy task

Patton – as ever – was the center of the audience’s attention and played with it like a bemused cat with a catnip mouse. With a mic (and sometimes a CB handset, and before it broke, a megaphone) in his hand, he bounded and bounced across the stage with light step of a shadowboxer. He would insult and compliment, keen his way through “Just A Man” with an Broadway star’s ironic majesty after shrieking his way through the throat-wrenching howls the sledgehammer-impact of “Caffeine” and front-flipping off the stage into the audience.

The breadth of cathartic attack and release that Faith No More are capable of embodying in their music is unmatched. Another thing that I got from their work was a rebuke to never to stop evolving. From the relentless petulant thrash-about of “Surprise, You’re Dead” to the elegant coyly-benevolent croon of “Ashes To Ashes,” there was no band before them that dared cover so much territory and do it so well – sometimes within a single song.

Witness this: that evening at The Warfield during the mid-tempo millstone-grinder of a song that is “Midlife Crisis,” Faith No More cut off their own music and listened to the audience happily shout the chorus back to the stage. Patton casually rubbed his jaw as he stared down the crowd with the facade of an unimpressed expression on his face. Then drummer Mike “Puffy” Bordin immediately counted-off the guys into a shimmying wedding-band-quality bar of Stevie Wonder‘s “Sir Duke” before cannon-balling directly back into the “Midlife Crisis’s” whirling melodic heaviness.

See for yourself:

Some things are worth revisiting, and I am exceedingly glad that the members of Faith No More felt like revisiting the music that they had left behind over a decade ago. Songs from the past were delivered with fresh passion. The concert was a wake and a spectacle and a visit from a friend who’d moved away years ago. Wrought new on The Warfield’s stage, to see this evolution of Faith No More in person was a fiercely positive experience.

Chris provided his own photos for this post.

Read Gordon Elgart’s review of the second night of Faith No More at the Warfield here.

Christopher Rogers

Christopher Rogers is a journalist / developer / enthusiast from and about the San Francisco Bay Area. His favorite secret about the SF Bay Area is that -- --- --- ---- ---- ---- - -- ------ ----, --- - ---'- ------ ------, -- ------ --- -------.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dj Burrito April 14, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Deliciously written!


Meow man April 25, 2010 at 11:58 am

Nice review. I was at this show too, and I am truly gracious to have been a part of it.. The energy from the band and crowd were prodigious, and I don’t think anyone can top FNM’s performance.


Animal. April 29, 2010 at 4:12 am

Great review…I was at this 1st show and the 3rd one on wed with the surprise Chuck appearance…2 of the best live shows I have ever been to…


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