Live Review: Faith No More - The Palladium, Hollywood
Thu, 02 Dec 2010 11:33:05
"We will not exist after tonight," said Faith No More frontman Mike Patton as he addressed The Hollywood Palladium during the band's final show in the United States.
It's fitting that Patton prefaced "Helpless" with that statement, as it's one of Faith No More's most delicately dark numbers. "Helpless," from 1997's masterful Album of the Year, illuminated everything so timeless about Faith No More. Jon Hudson's pristine clean guitar gave way to an ominous undercurrent of keys from Roddy Bottum. Billy Gould's bass line crept in perfect tandem with Mike Bordin's slow backing beat, and Patton pulled the crowd deeper into Faith No More's maddening airtight aural embrace. His vocals reached heavenly heights before he ended the song with heart-wrenching screaming. It was a dangerous display of rock 'n' roll, and it was emblematic of the band's brilliance.
The brilliant battering wasn't limited to "Helpless" though. After Bottum's funeral-style organ passages and circus textures signaled Faith No More's arrival to the stage, "Be Aggressive" ignited the show with a fitting war cry. All clad in suits (minus Bordin), the band looked more like characters of Roman Polanski's Chinatown or Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo than a band. That's precisely why they're so crucial though. Few bands look this dapper while they rage. Patton's primal screams instantly roused the crowd, while Bottum spelled out the song's refrain. Gould jumped up and down without missing a note as Hudson roared through a searing lead.
More Angel Dust intoxicated the audience as "Land of Sunshine" thumped and thrashed with a pronounced punch. Patton laughed into his megaphone, giving a guided tour of sonic lunacy like only he can, while Hudson tore through another solo. The singer circled the front of the stage, stirring energy from the ground up. Immediately after, scary funked-out keyboards framed the foundation of "Everything's Ruined," as Patton's operatic pipes resounded. The band's engaging, and destructive waltz continued as Patton charged the crowd like a bull, while singing perfectly, of course.
Bottum and Patton brandished a classy chemistry that kept the sense of humor sharp throughout the set. Bottum smiled at the crowd and gestured to Patton, "You ready for it?"
To which Patton yelled back, "All lubed up?"
"Evidence" slid through the speakers smoothly as the band's jazz side took over for a spell. Patton managed to drop a verse in Spanish as a sly wah pedal solo took over. The schizophrenic switchblade stomp of "Got That Feeling" was so heavy it could make Slayer shudder. Everyone had to shudder at the gorgeous disarray swirling at the center of "Last Cup of Sorrow." Patton evoked Frank Sinatra standing center stage and swaying with style, delivering each note with a poetry, power and passion unique to him and him alone.
The day of death crescendo of keyboards on "Cuckoo for Caca" steamrolled along with Gould's bass, as Patton gave one final vocal freak-out to drive it home. Bottum laughed, "That was a whole handful of heavy! Ya'll riled up? You want more heavy?"
Patton sauntered over to Hudson and said, "You need a little flower in your hair for a little extra heavy. Actually, it doesn't stick, I'll do it."
With that, the flower adorned the singer's slicked back black hair, and he gave Michael Jackson's "Ben" new life. The band added a Bernard Hermann-esque swoon to the track, before "Ashes to Ashes" bludgeoned everyone back into submission.
A genuinely magical moment came in the midst of "Midlife Crisis." In the middle of the song, Patton bowed his head and the entire venue chimed in with the chorus. The crowd's singing proved overpowering and strangely moving, especially as the frontman's head stayed down. With a wide grin, he kicked right back into the song and finished it off.
During "Spirit," the band let one uber excited and lucky fan take a stab at playing Bordin's parts. As soon as Patton saw him hop on the stage, he joked, "He's wearing a Metallica shirt. That's a good sign!"
That omen proved fortuitous, but Bordin was back on his throne soon enough. "King For a Day" segued from a moody and animalistic vocals into a stormy electronic break. After a fiery "Epic," Faith No More showed some serious soul with their take on The Manhattans' "Kiss and Say Goodbye." It's slow dance swagger capped off the first string of songs perfectly.
There was nothing more transcendent than the ending. "Digging The Grave" echoed with an unbridled urgency, feeling like a freight train about to derail at any moment on the wheels of incendiary guitars and bass and Patton's haunting yells.
The real triumph came on Album of the Year finale "Pristina." Patton took a symbolic stage dive, and as the crowd carried him he delivered the magnificent, majestic and mournful final words with ease and elegance. The words "I'll Be With You" reverberated chillingly especially as the singer sailed across the raised hands on the Palladium floor.
Even with such a transcendent conclusion, "Helpless" still sticks out in this writer's mind. Patton chanted "Help" over and over again upon the song's finale, but it's ironic. Faith No More don't need any help from anyone. They changed the face of music forever for the better. They started a revolution that led to the formation of countless bands and another life for hard rock. They started it on their own terms, and they'll end it that way as well.
Thanks for the inspiration…Shows like last night's are why I write about music…
Were you there?
Read our exclusive interview with Mike Patton here!