Faith No More’s first two reunion shows take place this week in England, and the band has a long history of gigging and to a lesser extent chart success in England and in the UK in general. Continuing its build-up to the start of the Second Coming Tour, Faith No More 2.0 takes a look back at FNM and the UK.
1988: First tour
Faith No More’s first shows outside the US took place in January and February 1988 with 14 dates in England and Scotland. Indeed, according to the aussiemusic fan gig database, the band played at least one gig in the UK in each of the first six months of 1988. Their first ever gig outside the UK took place in Dingwalls in London on 22 January.
There is no set-list recorded but it seems likely it would have been similar to that played at Nottingham’s Rock City four days later:
The Crab Song
We Care A Lot
War Pigs (Black Sabbath)
Why Do You Bother
The band’s last UK date of 1988 was on 24 July in Folkestone only to return for another series of gigs in July and October 1989.
1989: Marquee review
The October run included two back-to-back dates at the Marquee club, the second of which was the subject of an amazingly still preserved online review in UK metal bible Kerrang. Sample quote: “The bass funks, flattens and ravages, the guitar distorts and then slides while the drums just belt you in the mouth and tell you to shut up and listen. This one you’ve got to see for yourselves. Faith No More have a sound problem that rings like an alarm bell and growls like an irate feline. The snare resembles an inverted steel bucket being struck. For the rest of the evening I couldn’t quite work out whether Mike Patton either knew or cared. There is something wrong with this man, very wrong…With the sturdy casting of “Introduce Yourself” they blighted past shadows and confounded half the capacity audience who seemed familiar with “The Real Thing” and very little else. “We Care A Lot” fell the same indecisive dusty route, while “Falling To Pieces” was welcomed like the return of a favoured son.”
1990: Dates and chart success
After a one-off London gig in November 1989, Faith No More departed the UK only to return the following January and February as they promoted the release of the Real Thing album. By that stage the band has begun to make an impression on the UK charts. In February, the initial release of the Epic single gave them their first Top 40 hit, albeit at number 37. The Real Thing album also reached its chart peak of 30 that month. Meanwhile, the From Out of Nowhere single reached number 23 in the singles chart in April, when the band returned for another UK tour which included the legendary first Brixton Academy show on 28 April 1990 (More details on the two Brixton shows in a separate post later). Previously on 19 April, the band played on the iconic BBC chart music show Top of the Pops.
1990: Reading Festival
The band returned to the UK to play the Reading festival on Friday 24 August with the following setlist:
From Out Of Nowhere
Falling To Pieces
The Real Thing
As The Worm Turns
The Crab Song
Edge Of The World
We Care A Lot
Sweet Dreams (Nestles)
Surprise! You’re Dead!
Woodpecker From Mars
War Pigs (Black Sabbath)
The iconic Stefan Negele gig site also mentions that the band played snippets of Madonna’s Vogue, New Kids on the Block’s Right Stuff and Public Enemy’s 911 is a Joke.
Meanwhile, in September Epic was re-released and reached number 25 in the singles charts.
The album version of Live at Brixton Academy was released and reached number 20 in the album charts in February 1991 but the band made just one appearance in the UK during the year, performing at the International Rock Awards at London’s Docklands Arena. Check the YouTube clip below.
1992: Peak chart success
Faith No More went stellar in the UK in 1992 with Midlife Crisis charting at number 10 in June and Angel Dust hitting number two in the UK album charts in the same month. Their profile was such that they were the subject of a feature in the Sunday broadsheet The Observer at a time, unlike now, when most UK newspapers left music coverage to the magazine and tabloids: The report opened: “Despite starting out as an anti-people band, Faith No More’s last album, 1989’s The Real Thing, has sold millions, even though its baroque, doom-laden fusion of metal, funk and prog rock confounded US radio’s rigid formats.”
The band were also part of one of the biggest rock tours of all time, supporting Guns N’Roses at the height of their fame. FNM warmed up for the European leg of the tour with dates in Nottingham and London’s Marquee, where they were billed as Haircuts that Kill, on 13 and 14 May.
1992: Guns N’Roses tour
The tour took them to Wembley stadium (where it seems they played the Theme from Shaft according to this bootleg cover supplied by Mr Prez via Twitter) in London, Manchester’s Maine Road stadium and Gateshead on 13, 14 and 16 June, playing shortened Angel Dust-heavy sets. In an interview with NME magazine that year Bill Gould explained what it was like as part of the GNR circus: “Support bands are like other countries with whom they maintain a diplomatic front. Like, keep your mouth shut, enjoy the ride and everything will be cool. Open your mouth, and jeopardize your own position. It’s an interesting thing to experience first hand.”Mike Patton recounted in Sky magazine in December how the band’s constant GNR-baiting earned them an audience with Axl Rose: “We said a lot of shit, and didn’t realize how bad it was until we got caught. Axl was real straight with us, but it was an ugly scene. He said: ‘It’s like I went away and came back home to find you guys fucked my wife.’ We were thrown off the tour for five hours, but we apologized. It was like being in the principal’s office. He said, ‘I only like you guys, Nirvana, Jane’s Addiction, and two other bands, and all of you hate me. Why do you hate me?'” “We’re still hoping he hasn’t read some of it,” Patton chips in. “We were just being honest, and that felt great, but it can also get you killed. As far as the press was concerned, we were like caged animals. They’d throw us a little bit of meat and we’d attack. And we realized that we were the ones who were getting screwed. The interviews that we did belonged in the National Enquirer. We were like a gossip column rather than a band.”
1992: November tour
The band returned to Europe for their own tour in November and by that stage A Small Victory and Everything’s Ruined had charted in the Top 40 at 29 and 28 respectively. Prior to the UK leg of the tour the band appeared on late-night Channel 4 TV show The Word (not the time Mike doused Terry Christian with a glass of water) on 13 November and performed Everything’s Ruined.
The tour itself, featuring support from L7, kicked off in Cardiff on 23 November and concluded in Sheffield on 5 December following a lengthy stint in Glasgow and another three dates at Brixton Academy.
1992: Fanzine flavour
The Teach Me Violence fanzine captured the essence of those shows: “The lights went down, and a new intro tape blared out. Nothing less than a techno warm-up, followed promptly by FNM themselves jogging out onstage for a brief aerobics session before crashing headfirst into a storming version of ‘Caffeine.’ From there on, any doubts that may have niggled me are straight outta the window. The set is magnificent, a smart blend of old and new, bravely steering firmly away from ‘Real Thing’ material, a gamble that certainly pays off with the responsive audience. The dynamics of the set are great, building up into frenzies only to slow right down into songs like ‘RV’ or ‘Easy.’ When the set ends with ‘Epic,’ the audience are ecstatic, and the encore, including the Dead Kennedys ‘Let’s Lynch the Landlord’ (cocKtail version?) and ‘As the Worm Turns’, is nothing short of excellent. That’s the end of the first gig, and a clear indication that FNM are at present better than ever.”