Faith No More showcase old talents and new album at landmark Vancouver gig

Dustin Rabin Photography, Faith No More, FNM, Dustin Rabin
Photo by Dustin Rabin

San Francisco rockers, Faith No more, delivered a powerful performance in support of a new record that is set to be released in May.

In an interview two years ago, Faith No More singer Mike Patton admitted that the prospects of the band reuniting had petered out. He said the members felt conscious about the risks of compromising their legacy, something that many other bands fell victim to while trying to make new cash off old music.

Yet last night saw the opening show of their date-packed spring/summer tour across North America and Europe in support of their upcoming album, Sol Invictus. The new record is their first in 18 years. And if the show at the PNE Forum is anything to go by, the band has much more on offer than just the aged version of themselves.

The stage set resembled both a funeral house and a Sunday mass at a church.

As soon as Faith No More kicked off the show with one of the new songs, “Motherfucker”, there came the first sigh of relief. Patton’s incredible voice was at its best, conveying both masculinity and a Billy Joel kind of sensitivity. Patton masterfully switched between styles, making the whole performance balanced. There was equal place for seriousness and sarcasm, black soul and trash metal-screaming, life and death.

During “Easy”, the venue swiftly turned into a high school prom: a disco ball shone, sending out pink light into the crowd. The role of a romantic crooner proved too cheesy for Patton, and he demonstratively coughed into the microphone at the end of the song.

All in all, the event was very much a “best of” kind of concert. The several teasers from the new album blended into the set organically, receiving warm approval from the audience.

The two closing songs, “Digging the Grave” and final Sol Invictus track, “From the Dead”, rounded up wittingly the play of opposites.

“How are we doing?” asked Patton halfway through the show. Partly joking as it was, this interaction with the crowd was another sign of the band having been self-aware of their own progression and whether the new music was going to satisfy their nostalgic fans.

That concern seem understandable. When a band releases their first new material since 1998, it’s difficult to predict just where they’re going to find themselves on the current music scene. Thankfully, all these years, the band members were far from inactive. After over a decade of experimenting across all genres of music, it would only be logical that Faith No More have much more to offer now than ever.

Faith No More did their best to not look like they thought too much of themselves. “Vancouver, you look like shit” was how Patton’s summed it up. “But we’re even worse.”