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Faith No More, live in Los Angeles

The first of three sell-out shows as rock's favourite oddballs make their triumphant return to Los Angeles

You’d expect a support band to be at least interesting if they were hand-picked by Faith No More, and New Jersey three-piece Ho99o9 (apparently pronounced Horror) are nothing if not that. Baffling at times, yes, but interesting nonetheless, and even quite intense at times, despite the fact that much of their set seems to be thinly disguised karaoke. Unless there’s some other term for playing along to recordings of other bands, notably Black Flag and Bad Brains. One of the two frontmen even pulls off an HR style back flip, although the sounds vary through punk and metal to rap and beyond. Frankly, it’s all over the place, but strangely compelling all the same. Which is something tonight’s headliners know all about!

It’s been some five years since Faith No More came through LA and Christ knows how long if you happened to miss those shows. It’s also been 18 years since the band put out a new album. Naturally all three nights here sold out in a heartbeat, ticket touts and bootleg t-shirt vendors littering the sidewalk outside, but with all that comes a nervous anticipation and a weight of expectation. It’s been a long time, after all, and those memories of the glory days are distant. Maybe that spark of magic and madness that made them one of the most compelling bands one earth has gone.

But, no, we needn’t worry about magic or madness. A road crew dressed entirely in white does a spot of flower arranging, while DJ Mexican Dubwiser plays mariachi Nirvana tunes, and then, to a roar from the audience, the bands appears, also clad in white. Frontman Mike Patton is wearing some sort of bondage harness that tugs at his nostrils and cheeks, contorting his face. And they open with a new song entitled Motherfucker, slow building and weirder than a furries convention on acid. They follow that with the colossal From Out Of Nowhere. So much for magic and madness.

And so on through Caffeine from ‘92s Angel Dust, Evidence from ‘95s King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime, and into the aptly named Epic from back when Noah thought it looked a bit cloudy out. In all there are 19 songs, each markedly different from the next, and the setlist is crafted well enough that you don’t notice what’s missing until they’re done, the mark of a band with classics to spare (most of them from The Real Thing). If there’s a complaint it’s that the Wiltern always sounds muffled, with excellent views of the backs of peoples’ heads, but even that is solved when the entire crowd sings along to Midlife Crisis. Not known to be easily impressed, Patton gives a nod of approval, acknowledging one of those special nights, and perhaps that we’d forgotten Faith No More could be so good. We won’t forget again in a hurry.

A veteran of rock, punk and metal journalism for almost three decades, across his career Mörat has interviewed countless music legends for the likes of Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Kerrang! and more. He's also an accomplished photographer and author whose first novel, The Road To Ferocity, was published in 2014. Famously, it was none other than Motörhead icon and dear friend Lemmy who christened Mörat with his moniker.