Saturday saw the return to Southampton of one of the most versatile groups to ever grace the UK, The Fun Lovin Criminals. The New York trio had spent the whole of 2016 on tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album Come Find Yourself and loved it so much they decided to carry it on, touring into the new year. It was obvious on the night that their momentum had not waned and was still at full throttle.
FLC entered the stage to the sound of the Star Wars soundtrack which primed the crowd for the out of the world performance they were about to give. They kicked things off with self-named track The Fun-Loving Criminal, and if that wasn’t enough to confirm it was really them in the flesh, their effortlessly cool style and chilled down tempo grooves were unmistakeable.
They followed this directly with their song Passive Aggressive before taking a break to allow time for front man Huey Morgan to throw shade on someone wearing a New York Jets jersey, all done in good spirits of course. This became a motif of FLC’s show; not just concerned with playing the songs and leaving, but he spent a decent part of the performance taking time to speak and banter with the crowd, as well as his bandmates. This willingness to engage with the crowd was true to their track motto of ‘Love Ya Back’ and their eagerness to give the crowd more than just a set list was evidently appreciated by the crowd, who were only too happy to laugh along and listen to what he had to say.
However, this wasn’t the preachy, ‘relate to us’ prattle that some bands decide to do to confirm their morality. Instead, Morgan stated “I’m not going to talk to you about politics, everyone else already talks to you about that”. Rather, it was interesting back-stories and anecdotes to accompany each song they played, adding a whole different element to the songs that were previously unknown, potentially to even the most die-hard fans. For example, before playing the song Smoke ‘Em, he explained that the concept for the song came from his past life as a marine and his commanding officer telling him before jumping out of planes to “Smoke ‘em If you got ‘em”; a quote that Morgan dubbed as “The military way of telling you that you might be about to die”. Before King Of New York, he retold an interesting story about the hair-raising meeting with the son of real life New York gangster John Gotti, on which the song was based on.
In total, the show consisted of a 15-song track list plus a double song encore, which consisted mainly of The Come Find Yourself album. However, the addition of fan favourites such as Loco and Love Unlimited assured the crowd that this wasn’t merely regurgitation of the 2016 tour but one of its own merit. The highlight of the show – undoubtedly being their most renowned hit Scooby Snacks – made a noticeable switch in the crowd’s vibrations at this point, which was saying something considering the high energy of the crowd throughout. We, The Three, a song which allowed all members to contribute their unique vocal skills, and the uplifting All The Time In The World were also received especially well by the audience. This being said, the band could do no wrong in the fan’s eyes and the overall consensus by the end was a job well done and money well spent.
The bands performance overall was remarkable, as expected from such a consistent and tour-happy band. The funky, upbeat sounds and the silky smooth, husky vocal stylings of Morgan sounded, if possible, better live than is visible on any of their studio albums – which is a huge testament to any band, let alone one with the back-catalogue credentials of FLC. The multi-talented aspects of the group also contributed greatly to the performance, with Brian ‘Fast’ Leiser switching from keyboard, to trumpet to guitar seamlessly throughout, as well as his vocals adding a level of musical professionalism that you just don’t see anymore. Not to mention the charisma and vocal skills of drummer Frank Benibini, who also wasn’t afraid of a bit of crowd interaction and even shared some of his dance moves at the front of the stage at the end when all was said and done.
Overall, the energy and vibrancy of the performance oozed of passion for both their music and their fans, and you could tell that they were enjoying playing each song as much as the crowd was enjoying listening. This passion and dedication almost makes up for frontman Morgan mistakenly referring to the location as Portsmouth several times, which is an unforgivable sin in the touring world, even after such a performance. Despite this however, the show was a huge success, the band closing the show with the relevant Big Night Out and leaving the crowd and band united in a chorus of “I got a supermodel on my dick!”; a truly memorable night till ended.
If you’re a fan of the band, you can check out a fun, personal interview with member Brian ‘Fast’ Leiser.