Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Fun Lovin' Criminals - Leeds 02 Academy, February 4th 2016 (Live Review)

"The 6-song encore includes the sun-drenched ‘Loco’… can positively smell the Tequila, as the gents also tear-up the Barry White tribute ‘Love Unlimited’..."

Half a century ago the LP as we know it finally came of age with the releases of ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Revolver’. For the next 30-odd years, its position as the definitive benchmark against which every serious popular music performer would be judged remained unchallenged until the digital age suddenly gave the listener the power to slice and dice their audio product, threatening to make albums an irrelevance overnight. Thankfully, the art form fought back partly due to the resurgence of vinyl, also because digital streaming sites like Spotify, suddenly meant listeners could plunder back catalogues at will as opposed to simply ‘Best Ofs’. Performers also started playing their most feted works in their entirety during live shows, not lost on Fun Lovin’ Criminals who’ve chosen to do just that with their stylish and urbane debut, first appearing in record shops some 20 years ago this month. 

With that in mind, Huey, Brian and Frank have decided to dispense with an undercard, instead playing a brace of sets themselves, firstly ‘Come Find Yourself’ from start to finish, followed by a best of the rest as an extended encore.

Tonight the boys hit the stage to the appropriately dulcet tones of ‘New York Groove’, Huey looking particularly dapper in his suit, t-shirt, gold chain and a pair of unlaced Nikes (perhaps missing a tin of cold baked beans to finish the look off properly) as FLC launch into their eponymous opener ‘The Fun Lovin' Criminal’ and the place is suddenly bouncing to the ensuing wall of sound. The playing is effortless from all concerned without appearing nonchalant as ‘Passive/Aggressive’ does exactly what it says on the tin, the two decades allowing the band to really grow into each of the tracks. ‘Scooby Snacks’ is an uproarious joy, capturing all of the energy of the recorded version, as well as the ‘Pulp Fiction’ robbery sample, the three amigos continuing to alternate between chilled out grooves and simmering malevolence, particularly on a sparkling ‘King of New York’.

The track that always stuck out like a sore thumb on ‘Come Find Yourself’ was the band’s laid back cover of ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ and tonight is no exception, Fast adding soothing brass in all the right places whilst simultaneously on keyboard duty, what a talented chap…Huey paying tribute to writer Hal David at the end of the song. The taut ‘Bear Hug’ snaps everyone out their reverie and the first set ends after precisely one hour with the dreamy ‘Methadonia’ bringing everyone down nicely.

The 6-song encore includes the sun-drenched ‘Loco’… can positively smell the Tequila, as the gents also tear-up the Barry White tribute ‘Love Unlimited’ concluding in fine fashion with ‘Big Night Out’. Certainly a fun filled evening for all concerned.

Words - Mike Price

Fun Lovin' Criminals official