[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Faith No More / Refused
Friday, July 31, 2015
Red Hat Amphitheater, Downtown Raleigh —
Certain other media outlets (I’m looking at you Indy Week) were quick to write off Friday’s double reunion show as a cash grab, tarnishing the legacies of once-relevant avant garde rock bands. I can relate to that sentiment, particularly since the reunion boom of the last 10 years has produced as many sighs as it has cheers, but in the case of Faith No More / Refused, the entire RDU Music staff was beside ourselves with anticipation for this show. And I think that I can honestly say, for seemingly the first time in my 30+ cognizant years hurtling through space on a squishy rock at roughly 1,000 miles per hour, something actually lived up to the hype.
A topic of conversation we like to bandy about here at RDU Music is the fact that we are getting older. We’re more open to nostalgia and the misty, water-colored memories that it invokes. Thus, we were all cautiously optimistic on the drive to the show, which is in stark contrast to the jaded pessimism that flows through our collective veins. On this particular evening, Lan had been issued his shiny, new Photo Pass and was ready to acquire some choice cuts. (Hats off to Lan, by the way. His photos are the star of this show that we call RDU Music.) Shameburger adopted the “sun’s out, guns out” pro-tank-top mentality as we picked him up from pregaming at Stag’s Head. Hell, we even got Nate to venture out from the desolate, post-apocalyptic wastelands of north Durham for this one. And yours truly was ready to go crazy, Broadway style.
Naturally, we headed straight for the beer vendor. As he was pouring my ice cold, 24 oz. PBR into a clear, plastic cup, he jovially remarked, “When was the last time you paid $11 for a Pabst?” I replied, “As a matter of fact, last Sunday when I was standing in this very same spot.” He then regaled us of a tale centering on how many PBRs one dollar could afford a man back in his when. (A full six-pack, for those of you playing at home.) We gave cheers to the good old days and each dropped a buck into the tip jar, where all proceeds benefited the Starland Vocal Band. Or was it Knibb High football? Don’t quote me on that one. All I know is that it was for a good cause.
After a brief excursion to the merch tent, we headed back to our seats (9 rows back of the pit, dead center) as Refused struck their opening chords.
I promised the Shameburger that he could take the lead on the Refused review so I’ll keep mine brief. Bang it here for Shameburger‘s full coverage of Refused @ Red Hat.
Refused took the stage as the sun was setting on DTR, dressed to the nines in dapper dark suits, opening with “Elektra”, the first single and leadoff track of their new record, “Freedom”. Dennis’ first mic swing of the night met with disaster as the mic went up but only the cord came down. Dennis effortlessly shrugged it off, performed a couple of top-notch high kicks for a man of his age (43), and just kept on dancing until he could acquire a backup. His Mick Jagger swagger was in top form as Refused blasted through their setlist, comprised of an equal dose of each “Freedom” and “The Shape of Punk to Come”. That was the surprising part of the evening: The zeal at which Refused tackled their new material. In all honestly, “Freedom” didn’t click with me on the first listen or two, but after seeing those songs performed live and with the same fire as their classics, I owe it to myself to give it another spin.
In lieu of the stand-up bass jazz interlude of “The Deadly Rhythm”, Kristofer riffed on Slayer’s “Raining Blood” while Dennis performed a series of consecutive pelvic thrusts. And it just felt right.
4/5 stars – A teenage, punk rock dream come true.
As night fell, the gravity of the situation hit me: I was about to see Faith No More. A band that meant the world to me growing up. A band that I never thought I’d get to see live after their 1998 break up. A band so criminally misunderstood in the annals of rock’n’roll history that most people only remember “that one video with the fish flopping around.” Faith No More was the glue that bonded like-minded weirdos together during our awkward teenhoods. And they were about to play Raleigh for the first time since December of 1989.
Stagehands clad all in white began preparing for the set by draping white cloth over literally everything and setting up gigantic floral arrangements in an effort to make the stage look like Faith No More was about to play the antechamber to heaven. Allow me to paint the tableau: All your friends and loved ones are there. Your childhood dog is wagging her tail, awaiting your arrival. Roddy Bottum meets you at the threshold with a leather gimp mask in his outstretched hand. Just for you.
The crowd erupted as Faith No More, also clad entirely in white linen, took the stage and opened with “Motherfucker” off of the recently released “Sol Invictus.” It was an interesting choice for a reunited “classic” band to be opening with a new jam, but if Refused could do it an hour ago, surely could FNM. After the crowd was positive that Mike would be able to “get that motherfucker on the phone,” FNM got the party going with two classic jams off of the best album of the 90s (yeah, I said it), “Angel Dust”.
If I had any lingering sentiments about all “reunion” bands being in it for nothing more than the money, they all completely melted away as I danced to “Evidence”. I’m normally very self conscious about my dancing, but that track shed my inhibitions. (With a little help from PBR tallboys.) Next up was (surprisingly) their biggest hit, “Epic”. Truth be told, I tend to skip that track whenever I dust off “The Real Thing” since I had been bludgeoned nearly to death by that video on MTV during my formative years and was honestly surprised that it made its way into the setlist, but everyone was so into it that I couldn’t help but get swept away in the moment. In fact, the entire set was rife with Raleigh’s Faith No More faithful hugging and singing along to every song. And your humble storyteller was right in the middle. Hell, FNM bassist, Billy, literally smiled from ear to ear for 3/4 of the set. We were all having the time of our lives.
FNM took a moment to catch their breath after the first third or so of the set to engage in a little banter. (Editor’s Note: Lan loves banter.) It centered on a proposed treasure hunt for Roddy’s shit-filled underwear.
“Shit comes out of your butt.”
“What about you, tough guy? What color is your shit?!”
As the set progressed to “Midlife Crisis”, the crowd was taken aback by the breakdown. The band went silent for a moment then started up again to the tune of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. I can honestly say that I didn’t see that one coming. (Especially since the previous two sets in Atlanta and Houston included an interlude of “Lowdown” by Boz Scaggs.) Up next was “A Small Victory”, which had not been played in the U.S. since 1993! (Thanks, setlist.fm. You guys are doing the Lord’s work.)
As the set winded down, we knew an encore was forthcoming. The question posed to me by Lan was, “What are they going to play?” Especially since the encores (and whole setlists for that matter) have been different each night of the tour, I half-jokingly offered up “Ugly in the Morning” to the gods of rock’n’roll but I was not disappointed that we received “Cone of Shame” and a surprising nod to a time that predated Mike Patton’s tenure with the band, “We Care a Lot”.
Looking at the clock, I knew there was only one song left. A spot of stage banter revealed that they wanted to “end on a sweet note”. That led into Mike and Roddy discussing how the South will give you a little banana pudding at the end of the meal, whether you like it or not. For the last song, Billy gave us the choice of a song that started with a “B” or with a “J”. (Editor’s Note: If anyone can tell me what would have been the choice for “B”, I’ll buy you a beer at the next show we mutually attend.) They went with “Just a Man” off of “King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime”.
I honestly didn’t want the show to end. As stated in “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies”…I never felt this much alive.
Faith No More Setlist
5/5 stars – I did not show up thinking I would give a 5-star rating to Faith No More. (Hell, I didn’t think I’d give Refused a 4/5 either). But after that set, I wish I had more stars to give. This was one reunion tour that was indeed life-changing. (Regardless of what a Yankee Indy Week reporter has to say about it.)
Dopplegangers do exist.
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