So on a January eve the boys that make up the Fun Lovin’ Criminals are back. They’ve kinda not been away – just lower profile as a band. The boys from New York City are in Wolverhampton City tonight, with their laid back, humorous and tongue-in-cheek approach to life.
So exactly who are FLC. They’ll be vocalist and guitarist Huey Morgan, Brian ‘Fast’ Leiser on all sorts of instruments and Frank Benbini on drums, percussion and vocals. Formed 21 years ago, it was their 1996 debut album ‘Come Find Yourself’ that found us smoozing to ‘The Fun Lovin’ Criminal’, King of New York’ and snacking on ‘Scoobie Snacks.’ Their album spent a year in the UK charts, but failed to make any impact in their native US. ‘98s ‘100% Columbian’ was grittier and included ‘Love Unlimited’ a tribute to the legendary Barry White. Albums keep coming and they’ve continued to release and play live, which band members have got involved with other things. Morgan is a regular on BBC radio (notably BBC6 Music and Radio 2), whilst the other members have done side projects.
So tonight should be a fun gig and we’re looking forward to it.
Support comes from Midlands band Klasside. According to their website they formed in 2011 and combine elements of rock, funk, rap and folk into a melodic, modern sound.
They have an EP out – if you like ‘em – message ‘em on Facebook and they’ll send you a copy for free. This six piece including acoustic guitar player, come across quite surprising not as heavy as their own individual person tastes – which certainly cover the indie rock genre – tracks involve lots of “yeeeaaaays”. They’re pretty tight. Last track up is their take on House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ an ecletic mix of the original backing track and them playing over it in their own unique style. They’re consistently touring around the Midlands – they’ll be back at the Slade Rooms on 16 Feb – more information – check out their website: www.klasside.co.uk
FLC’s tour hasn’t had all the rig-ma-roll of many tours; the date was just announced and the Wulfrun is full with an truly eclectic mix of fans. And as we waiting tracks such as ‘Hit the Road Jack’ are remixed with a smooth Columbian vibe that gets a feet a-tapping.
Just before 9 – the lights go down and on they come. “How ya doing Wolverhampton…. Yay baby…” as suited and booted in Blues Brothers style they’re bouncing round the stage rapping in true Run DMC style. “Wolverhampton, how you been – it’s been a while – gonna say I can’t hear you… but I can. Really good to be here.” Huey is SMMMMMMOOOOTTHHH baby, chatty, engaging and funny, this is no retro tour; the boys are here to charm – and genuinely to party.
Now we get the bluesy fuck that is ‘King of New York’ – for a three piece they are hugely professional. “Wolves in the house…. Bringing the love in all forms…” Frank’s mom is in the house tonight, we are assumed that they won’t curse too much out of respect.
The tracks they play are an eclectic mix, as they morph from rap, to bluesy Columbian style with a bit of cheeky gangsta, to full on rock – Huey being applauded at times for his axemanship. For all their smoothness there’s the alternative view of their New York blues – ‘Southside’ is heavy, even nears a screaming repetitive chorus, and a remixed grind.Huey’s in conversation with a female in the audience “… well I never… sweet thing, girl…” as he raises a glass to the audience.
The promoter gave them a nice bottle of tequila (more like rocket fuel were told), so the boys are happy. As we get into the intro: “Everyone be cool, this is a robbery! If any of you f*****g pricks move and I’ll execute every motherf*****g one of you..”
We’re into ‘Scoobie Snacks’ and we dance and sing away – track goes down well with the crowd, to big cheers. ‘Were the Bums Go’ finds us in full on traditional punk territory – “wooooaahhh” go the crowd. And between the smooth, the rock, the punk and the rap – we get skiffle as we’re into the punky tinged ‘10th Street.’
Huey is the words and axesmith, but don’t let Fast and Frank be outdone, Fast at one point is playing keyboards and trombone at the same time, while Frank takes on guitar and drums. We’re enjoying the gig, they’re enjoying it – what more could you ask for. Encore and we get the Barry White’s with ‘Love Unlimited’ and “yeeeeeehhhhhaaaaarrr” – The Fun Lovin’ Criminal.
And as they take their leave, to rapturous applause “… the shows over, you know what I mean?” Huey can’t resist shaking hands, saying thanks and thoroughly enjoying it.
Tonight we got ‘Fun’ in bucketloads, ‘Lovin’’ – hell yeah baby, ‘Criminals’ oh definitely in a very cheeky way, each charismatic band member has a big grin and wicked sparkle in the eye. Can’t deny that it was ‘Scoobie Snacks’ and ‘The Fun Lovin’ Criminal’ that were standouts – but this is a gig you left with a gig grin and infectious tunes running through your head too, that you just couldn’t shake off. Let’s hope they’re back soon. Go and see, go and play. It’d be criminal not to.