It’s been said that the skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.
In the six long years since the cold day in hell when Faith No More announced their reformation, they slowly, inexorably outstayed a rapturous welcome as the march of time slowly flattened the suspicion that their frequently flawless sets might ever promise anything new, and even the most rabid devotees began to quietly concede that perhaps it was indeed time for the peerless innovators to at last call it a day.
That all changed when last year there began online portents of what we now know with delighted certainty: Sol Invictus, their first album in 18 years, is on its way, and more importantly this Faith No More are a band again.
Soundgarden have hardly left the stage next door when when the Mike Patton and company stride out on the white-draped stage, they themselves curiously dressed all in white, and launch into the peculiar cadence of Motherfucker. The crowd, squirming in the heat, is nothing less than frenetic.
“Hey, what’s that there, would you give me a bit of that?” says Patton, beckoning a festival worker who’s using a garden hose to cool the crowd from today’s 36-degree heat. “Aw man, was it good for you?”
Patton seems determined to play the class clown tonight, and the only thing matching his impish self-regard is his ability to vocally soar as easily as most of us draw breath. Epic, Last Cup Of Sorrow, and Midlife Crisis – during which he pauses mid-song to break into a rousing, field-wide singalong of The Lion Sleeps Tonight – pass by like a roll-call of hits, an unsubtle reminder of just how immense their back-catalogue really is, and just how ambitious an attempt to follow it up must be. But it’s really that playful command of Patton’s that makes this show really shine, the drum-tight unity of the band. Sure, the giant high school prom lighting and Patton’s decision to eat a sandwich into the cameras during the guitar solo to Easy undermine some of the song’s charms somewhat, but he clearly doesn’t give a damn: on the eve of one of the year’s most important releases, they look like they’re having the time of their lives, and so are we.
“Lades and gentlemen, are we making a connection here?” he asks.
Yes we are, Mike, we most assuredly are.
_Faith No More play the main stage on the Saturday of Download Festival this June. _