In the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim ingrained himself in American popular culture with his release You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby, more than peers like Basement Jaxx, Armand van Helden or The Chemical Brothers. The video for “Praise You” won some MTV awards, “The Rockafeller Skank” was used in soundtracks, and the later “Weapon of Choice” video featured Christopher Walken dancing and flying around a hotel.
Unfortunately, Cook’s name does not have the same cachet today; many friends I spoke to before the event elicited a response along the lines of “he sounds familiar, what’s his song?” Then I would quote “Right about now, the funk soul brother” before recognition would occur. Cook, however, continues to pack spaces around the world from Sydney’s Bondi Beach to Sao Paulo to his hometown of Brighton. And the audience packing the floor at NYC’s Terminal 5 for Cook’s only East Coast appearance reflected the diversity of his fans.
Cook successfully utilizes video and lighting into his set, as is crucial for a show featuring one man standing behind mixers. As he entered to a sample of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka, the projection screen showed a giant clock and hypnotic slow dancing Oompa Loompas. Then, in his workman overalls, he popped up a bit of “Praise You” to start the dancing.
Prior to this concert, Cook appeared on a couple of late night shows to perform the song “He’s Frank” with Iggy Pop from another one of his monikers, the Brighton Port Authority (BPA). Iggy did not make a guest appearance, but he showed up on the video screen along with Walken, some soul singers, and all sorts of moving shapes of monstrous creatures.
So with the crowd clapping along, jumping in the air and having a good time, Cook’s nearly two-hour block party proved very sweaty and incredibly fun. Incorporating recognizable elements from other songs, he spun some flamenco that got people singing along as well as DJ Kool, David Bowie, and “Feel Good Inc.” by the Gorillaz, before segueing into The Chemical Brothers’ “Block Rockin’ Beats”, complete with Monty Python-esque images. And he dropped House of Pain’s “Jump Around” whose simple directive the crowd immediately took to.
Of his own tunes, Fatboy Slim played the churning “Right Here, Right Now (Redanka Remix)”, the crazed “Renegade Master”, and near the end a mashup of the Rolling Stones “I Cant Get No Satisfaction” with his own “Rockafeller Skank” that everyone had been waiting for. But after dropping “Praise You” for one final time, Fatboy Slim exited the stage. Though he never came back, Fatboy Slim’s artistry shined through in the limited time. He would be most welcome back in New York for an extended set, but next time at a venue without a curfew.