Well now, that’s one mouthful of a title. Out on the marquee it just says “special guests!” On the other hand, it also lists “special guests” being present at all three nights — Monday, Tuesday, and tonight’s final show of Faith No More’s 3-night residency at the Warfield Theater. With the warped minds of Faith No More vocalist Mike Patton, and anti-comedian Neil Hamburger, each show has promised to be one hell of a treat. Along with an infamous punk-rock act from the San Francisco area, each night also has a second opening slot reserved for some form of bizarre entertainment — with a great emphasis on the bizarre.
On Monday, fans were treated to the crossdressing stylings of the Tranny Shack; Tuesday night saw the arrival of the Barbary Coast Cloggers and their brand of eclectic square-dancing. After the punk-cover stylings of the Whitetrash Debutantes — a seven-piece gender-bending outfit that covered such songs as “The Time Warp” and “Livin’ La Vida Loca” — the Wednesday night entertainment slot arrived in the form of… the El Camino High School Cheerleading Squad? Seeing the name on the bill only created part of the confusion; nevertheless, after a second round of horrid attempts at humor by Neil Hamburger (who was once again playing MC for the night), about 20 high school girls in full cheer regalia marched onto the stage. A pulsing techno number boomed its way through the theater, and the girls danced, made pyramids, leaped and bounded across the stage. Aside from sheer befuddlement, the performance caused little reaction in the crowd, except for the very last cheer — a repeated cry of “Faith No More!” which was immediately picked up by the crowd.
The aforementioned Neil Hamburger had been keeping his in-between-acts sets mercifully short; some of his jokes, while still tasteless, were also bordering on humorous. For his third round in the theater, he tried to incite the crowd to bellow out “Smash Mouth!” repeatedly, in reference to a disparaging remark he’d made about the band earlier that evening. Nearly 30 attempts at this went on before Hamburger suddenly stopped, paused for the smallest of moments, and growled out, “Ladies and gentlemen… FAITH NO MORE!” The resulting cheer, especially when the band was joined by Mike Patton — tonight clad in deep red, still sporting his cane — was almost earsplitting in its joyous intensity.
Even after kicking off tonight’s set with “Reunited,” the gorgeous Peaches And Herb ballad played to open Monday night’s show, it quickly became clear that Faith No More was not here to play a mellow set. Within moments of the second song — “From Out Of Nowhere” — the stage lights had sparked their way to life with a violent intensity, the band kicked the tempo up several notches, and Patton took his mic stand and hurled it at the crowd with a hellish scream. The crowd surged, a monumental pit forming behind where I watched from the barricade, but it was Patton who was the first to hurl himself face-first into the screaming, writhing masses. With some difficulty, he was pulled on stage just in time for drummer Mike Bordin to finish off the song, with bassist Billy Gould and keyboard player Roddy Bottum wailing along with guitarist Jon Hudson as the stage lights danced around with strobing mayhem. The crowd roared its approval — and this had only been the second song of the night.
Despite the great deal of speculation that had been working its way through the crowd in regards to Faith No More’s setlist, the final night had nearly the exact same set as that of the first night, albeit with the cover of “Ben” from the second night, and with “Digging The Grave” in place of “Surprise! You’re Dead.” This did nothing to dwindle the audience’s enthusiasm, however; if anything, they were further spurred on with the return of many of the wilder songs from Monday night. To mix things up a bit, the band segued into “Chinese Arithmetic” after a short cover of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”; when they performed “King For A Day,” the end of the song dissolved into a massive wall of haunting keys, washing cymbals, and the whispered, groaned utterings of Patton into his various microphones.
As has been said for the other nights of this week, the centerpiece of the show was easily the man in red. Patton threw himself across the stage, bellowing, snarling, and leaping about, as he delivered line after line in perfect key and with an inhuman level of strength. Besides “King For A Day,” many other songs for the show were punctuated by Patton’s rasping, gut-wrenching shrieks, along with his soft, delicate falsetto for the (extremely few) ballad-like pieces. At the end of “Just A Man,” the final song for the main set, Patton threw himself from atop the stack of speakers to the other side of the crowd, burying the microphone into his mouth and bellowing into it like a deranged banshee as he surfed across the hands below.
The real surprise for the night, however, arrived with the first encore. Just as the band kicked into the first chords of “As The Worm Turns,” Patton abruptly departed the stage, and was replaced by a taller, slightly-heavyset man with a dreaded mohawk and a furry red coat. Shock and awe turned into screams of insane admiration: this was Chuck Mosley, original singer for Faith No More, rejoining the rest of the band for the first time in nearly 22 years. Without a moment’s hesitation, he picked up where Patton left off, tearing into the encore with performances from the band’s first two albums, including the rarities “Mark Bowen” and “Death March.” The crowd seemed to be utterly transfixed by Mosley’s appearance; once he had finished the first encore, Patton rejoined the band to finish the night. After a performance of “Stripsearch” (punctuated by a Chariots Of Fire-theme introduction) Mosley and Patton went head to head, closing out the show with a thunderous performance of “Introduce Yourself”.
As a Faith No More fan, I fall in the middle between our two previous reviewers. I’m definitely a big fan of their work, but I’m not familiar enough with it to be shouting along to every single word in the show. Nevertheless, the shock of seeing Chuck Mosley return to play with his old bandmates — not to mention the killer songs and wild performance that made up tonight’s show — pushed this show into best-of-the-year status for me. It completely made the long line wait and poor experiences with drunken fans worth the trouble; Faith No More was incredibly solid, and really pushed themselves to deliver for the crowd of the Warfield Theater. My only regret is not having gone to at least last night’s performance, for the songs that were changed up between the first and third night; however, tonight’s show proved sufficiently amazing for my taste.
Setlist (with accompanying photo; the second encore is not on the paper setlist):
- Reunited (Peaches and Herb cover)
- From Out of Nowhere
- Land of Sunshine
- The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
- Poker Face / Chinese Arithmetic
- Last Cup of Sorrow
- Cuckoo for Caca
- Ben (Michael Jackson cover)
- Ashes to Ashes
- Midlife Crisis
- Digging the Grave
- King For A Day
- Just a Man
Encore 1 – Chuck Mosley on vocals
- As the Worm Turns
- Death March
- We Care A Lot
- Mark Bowen
Encore 2 – Mike Patton on vocals
- Chariots of Fire / Stripsearch
- Introduce Yourself
All photos by Jonathan Pirro.