Faith No More Come Back 'From the Dead' and Slay Vancouver - 15 April 2015
After a lengthy hiatus, Faith No More return to the stage, and never once do they appear like they're going through the motions.
The anticipation was palpable on the night of Faith No More’s long-awaited North American tour kickoff for Sol Invictus. That they chose Vancouver as starting point was a huge honor to fans in the city. Vancouver hadn’t seen the likes of Faith No More since 1997, when they were touring Album of the Year, and even in those days, our city wouldn’t see the band in a venue with more than a thousand seats. So Vancouver was positively slavering with anticipation for this long-overdue and triumphant return. Pregame at the bar next door to the PNE Forum was awash with vintage Faith No More t-shirts and sonorous testimonials of gigs past. Many wondered aloud what surprises would be unveiled on the North American leg’s set list.
Entry into the PNE Forum revealed a sold-out crowd in the 3,900-capacity barn, the majority of the crowd Gen-Xers, a few of whom were passing the torch down to their own kids. That was the oddest part. Faith No More’s absence from 1998-2009 seems to have stuck their fanbase in a bit of a time warp, in that you were either there the first time around, or you were coming to the band as hand-me-down music from your parents. There didn’t appear to be a lot of under-30s at the gig, unless they were there accompanied by their presumed parents.
I missed Christeene, the opening band, self-described as a “sexually-infused sewer of unclassifiable musical stylings and vile shamelessness”, so garner from that what you will, bold reader, and have a look on YouTube, if you’re feeling saucy.
About 15 minutes after walking in, the photogs were summoned to the front of house, which meant it was time! Back-of-neck hairs were on high alert; finally, the moment we’d been waiting for.
The lights dropped and there they were: Faith No More. Each member resplendent in white linen, they walked onto a white-washed stage bedecked in hundreds of fresh-cut flowers - and positively erupted into the new single “Motherfucker”. In short order, Faith No More reminded us all what the hell we’d been missing for so long, and Vancouver, in the wild abandon of a city rarely considered for tour openers, howled right along in frenzied appreciation.
The band then kicked into a fantastic version of “Land of Sunshine”. The song, markedly absent from any of the recent Australian and Japanese sets, was a most pleasant surprise, and a little overwhelming when they played it for us. But the best was yet to come.
An explosive “Caffeine” was up next, with a surprise Boz Scaggs “Lowdown” breakdown in the middle, which had the old heads smirking, wondering who caught the reference and who didn’t. Then, “Ricochet”, “Evidence”, and “Epic”, which of course, tore the roof off. Bodies bounced across the floor in reckless unison like it was still 1992 and we’d just discovered the pogo.
Next came another surprise in the form of the live debut of breakfast ode “Sunny Side Up”, from the forthcoming Sol Invictus, the first of several live debuts for Vancouver’s show.
Here is the strength of Faith No More as a live unit: for a band still riding high on reunion hubris, whether they’re playing brand new and exciting tracks, or time-honored classics, Faith No More still seem invigorated to be up there playing. It’s still fun, it’s still exciting, and it never once seemed forced or paint-by-numbers. They’re still quick as always with the wit, Patton and Roddy Bottum especially; they feed off the crowd’s energy, handing it back in rapid-fire insult-comic barbs.
The latter half of the set plundered heartily from the stellar King For A Day and Album of the Year records, but it was an absolutely jaw-dropping “Midlife Crisis” which brought the house down. Other highlights included the much-beloved cover of “Easy”, and the perennial favorite “Ashes to Ashes”. The other new single, the martial “Superhero” closed the main set. But after waiting 18 years to see Faith No More, Vancouver damn sure wasn’t ready to go home just yet.
The first encore opened with the live debut of the new album’s title track. “Sol Invictus” starts off as a somber piano-driven ballad, but soon ascends to great and powerful heights. But then there was another surprise: Faith No More dug into the vaults for the next track, a spirited rendition of “We Care A Lot” that had Vancouver going crazy. They followed this up with a ripping take on “Digging the Grave”.
And yet still our appetite wasn’t sated. For the second encore, Faith No More closed the night with another debut, the western-sounding “From The Dead”, which, with its Happy Trails-reminiscent chorus, was the perfect set closer.
The world at large is a better place for having Faith No More in it, rather than out of it. Vancouver thanks you for a great night. Welcome back, and come back soon.
Land of Sunshine
Sunny Side Up (live debut)
Last Cup of Sorrow
The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
Cuckoo for Caca
King for a Day
Ashes to Ashes
Sol Invictus (live debut)
We Care a Lot
Digging the Grave
From the Dead (live debut)
Kyle Harcött is some guy who writes mostly about metal. He is a contributing writer at Noisey, Last Rites, Steel For Brains, Backlit, and Hellbound -- and now PopMatters, too. He lives in Vancouver, BC, and can usually be found on Twitter complaining about something and/or just generally being a jerk.
Splash image: press shot of Faith No More by Dustin Rabin.