RAVE Magazine issue 198 August 16-22nd
Faith No More, Brisbane, Festival Hall, 8.8.95
by Ralph Douglas
Faith No More have built a solid career out of unpredictablity. It has enabled them to mess with the line up, play around with their identity/image as well as pilfer from a range of musical idioms. Their musical ambitions are inariably expansive, and there is no excess baggage; just a hint of sick humour and a defining feel for the chaotic. For over an hour the band covered all the required bases and made it clear that after fifteen years there is still a lot of territory that can be explored. With influences like the Residents and other early eighties San Francisco acts, experimentalists John Zorn and a myrid of rock and jazz misfits, Faith No More are one of the few bands to come to light in the barren Late eighties and still be relevant today.
The rendition of few tunes off '92's Angel Dust affirmed FNM's chaotic roots and greatness. "Midlife Crisis" and "I Swallow" thundered along with vocalist Mike Patton bellowing the lyrics in equal amounts of venom and bile. Recently recruited guitarist has added a sinuous, slicing attack to the overall sound, giving the band more grunt to be layered over the musclebound pulse of the rhythm section. Nevertheless he still manages to go straight into jazz cabaret mode for the smoother tunes like their latest single "Evidence" and "Just a Man", another track from their recent full length effort King For A Day Fool For A Lifetime.
They subsequently continued with a sublime version of Portishead's "Glory Box", a song perfectly suited to them. Little wonder really, given that the ambiguity of Portishead's ghostly ambient dub is similar to Faith No More's musical schizophrenia. After hearing their hit singles and a good dollop of their back ctalogue live, the unifying thread that binds their work into a whole is the combination of shuddering riffs and deceptively sweet melody.
The set crusied along with the accuracy of an exocet, but minus the firepower. The delivery was spot on, the mix fine, and the production swell; but the sense of chaos and nervousness was lacking. Neither was there a sense of theatre and occasion that Faith No More have a reputation for creating. They just didn't leap out at you and grab you by the throat. The feel was one of casual hyperactivity, avoiding self parody, but still leaving you with the impression that this was an exercise in restraint.
Thanks to Gary Best.