…of those moments that stay with you

One of my favourite concert memories of all time occurred on November 1st, 1997; the night Faith No More played the Entertainment Centre in Perth. Despite being aware of the band for many, many years, it was my first time seeing them live, having missed them on the King for a Day tour [1]. Only five months later, the band announced that they were breaking up. Faith No More were, well, y’know…

But back to that amazing night in ’97. I don’t remember who was support. I don’t believe my friends and I arrived in time to see them. I remember Faith No More opened with Mightnight Cowboy (Patton on the melodica), followed by the lead track of Album of the Year, Collision. Tracks from Angel Dust, King for a Day and The Real Thing all came early. And somewhere in the middle comes my highlight.

I come from a town of bogans; there’s no nicer way of saying it. Bogans have evolved over the years. These days, Bogans have cash. They drive nice utes, work on the mines or in well paying jobs, enjoy walking around without shirts on, showing off their Southern Cross tattoos, and have a taste for dance music and recreational drugs. The bogans of ’97 were simple folk. They liked metal and flannel and tight black jeans and beer. They loved Faith No More, and their favourite Faith No More song wasn’t even a Faith No More song. Or at least, an informal poll of chanters in the crowd made it seem that way. Right from early in the show came the cries for War Pigs – A Black Sabbath song covered by Faith No More on their third album, The Real Thing. I was frustrated. It’s a good song, sure, but certainly not their best [2], and besides it wasn’t even theirs.

The band, thankfully, ignored the requests. That was until about two thirds of the way through the show. Which is my moment. And from what I remember, it went something like this:

“You guys really want to hear that song from the 70s, huh?” Asked Patton, or perhaps Roddy.

The crowd cheered.

“Yeah, well we don’t really play that any more, but we do play another song from the 70s that we think you’ll really like.”

The crowd cheered.

From between the cheers, the opening piano chords of Burt Bacharach’s This Guy’s in Love With You rang out. Bass and drums followed, and then Patton on vocals. This was not a metal version of This Guy’s in Love With You. Nor was it a remixed, uptempo reworking. This was the song This Guy’s in Love With You, by Bacharach, performed in the style of Bacharach. You could almost hear the jaws drop. Five-thousand dumbstruck bogans, not quite sure what they were hearing, hoping it was all a big joke.

“Surely they’re kidding! Any moment now they’ll be breaking into War Pigs, and everything will be fine!” They were visibly upset. Stunned silent. I took my eyes off the stage, and looked to the bogans left and right of me, witnessing the horror on their faces. And I grinned. No, smiled. No, beamed. Exctasy in the middle of a sea of disappointed flannel. The song stops, and they cheer – “It’s over! War Pigs!”

No, not finished. Melodica solo. Then back to the chorus. It was magical.

The show went on. They didn’t play War Pigs. I think they closed on Pristina. I couldn’t even tell you if they played Epic. They didn’t need to. The whole thing was epic [3].

On the way home in the car one of my friends says, angrily “I can’t believe they didn’t play War Pigs“. I wanted to scream at him – “It’s not even their song!” – but I didn’t. Instead, I slid down in my chair and said nothing. Smiling to myself.

I’ve been a Faith No More fan for as long as I can remember. Playing my dubbed cassettes of The Real Thing and Angel Dust[4] on a loop to the point of almost warping the tape. Screaming out lyrics learned from photocopied cassette inlays. My microphone, a wooden toy hammer that was still kicking around my room from when I was very small. Mike Patton became a hero of mine, and Faith No More taught me that there was an alternative to pop music. Something more than mass-produced filler for Smash Hits albums. With them being away so long, I’d almost forgotten how much of an impact they’d had on my life.

That was until I found myself standing in the middle of Bassendean Oval on Monday night, screaming out lyrics to Caffine, Gentle Art of Making Enemies, Midlife Crisis and I Started a Joke, among others.

Roddy, Billy, Mike P, Mike B and Jon. They care a lot.

Yes, they covered a Bee Gees song. A ballad no less. And for a moment, I took my eyes off the stage, and looked around to the left and right of me, out towards a sea of now older bogans. All smiling.

—–
[1] It was on a school night.

[2] If you’re asking (which you’re probably not), my favourite Faith No More song is As the Worm Turns. The original version with Chuck Mosely on vocals features on their first album, We Care A Lot. It was then re-recorded with Patton on vocals on the Live at the Brixton Acadamy album (which is how I first heard the song), and the non-live version was a B-side on the Midlife Crisis single, which I managed to pick up second hand at the CD store that used to live under the refectory at Murdoch Uni. I didn’t call out for it as I knew there would be slim chance of the band playing it. If reports are correct though, it may have been the last song they played at their last show, just before they broke up.

[3] Boom tish.

[4] Sure, I can spout all sorts of facts about pre-Patton Faith No More, but I wasn’t even aware such a thing existed for many years. It wasn’t until I picked up a copy of their video collection Video Croissant on VHS that I started to find out a little more about the band’s history. Two or three songs in comes We Care A Lot, one of my favourite tracks from Live at Brixton Academy. It starts, and my friend Daniel and I notice it’s much slower than the live version. The camera pans up what looks like a pair of women’s legs – until, “Wait, that’s not a woman”. And then a moment later, a man turns towards the camera and begins to sing – “Wait, that’s not Mike Patton!” Scouring the video cover, we manage to find the name of this interloper – Chuck Mosley. We were confused. Scared. The next track – Anne’s Song – was not one we’d heard before. Another Chuck song. Distressed! I consider checking the tracking, hoping perhaps this was some sort of video glitch. Perhaps adjusting the vertical hold would bring Patton back?!

Eventually the video corrected itself. Tracks from The Real Thing and Angel Dust. Clips of the band performing live, and interviews. No one ever mentioning this Chuck character or where he went.

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Author: Mark Ampersand

Budding writer, connoisseur of fine popular culture and Batman fan.

1 thought on “…of those moments that stay with you”

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