Gig Review by Hayley Clark with Photos by Zoe Shannon

DJ Mateo, straight outta Brooklyn woke up the crowd as he burst open the show with a bit of throwback Mark Morrison’s ‘Return Of The Mack’. Encouraging the middle aged crowd to “make some noise” in the below freezing temperature of Digbeth’s Mill, he kept the crowd moving with an eclectic mix of tracks, rap heavy weights like Snoop and Jay Z mixed in with old skool favourites like Skeelo’s ‘I Wish’ and Chaka Demus & Pliers ‘Murder She Wrote’.

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The room was filled with energy as Mateo beamed from the behind the decks, acknowledging the diverse crowd he switched things up a little throwing in Steve Harley, Bowie and Fred Wesley. DJ Mateo instructed the crowd to make more noise as “FLC are In the house!” As the beats pumped harder the crowd were worked into a frenzy as it was nearly time for what they’ve been waiting for. A sing along of Lauryn Hill’s ‘Doo-Wop’ made way for the crowd erupting finale of ‘Walk This Way’ blended into ‘Kiss’. With time creeping quicker than the tortoise and the snail the big band intro began as DJ Mateo showed why he’s up there with New York’s finest underground DJs and played out with ‘Sgt Pepper’ leaving the crowd crazy with excitement.

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Within minutes of the track ending the crowd went wild as Fun Lovin’ Criminals appeared on stage. Frontman Huey looking a little worse for wear perching on a red leather chair with his leg strapped up as he hobbled on bravely.

“I didn’t think this would work out either but frankly friends, I’d break bones and still come and see you, I love codeine mannn” he told his adoring audience in his best Godfather voice.

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Bursting into ‘Rumble’ backed up by an uplifting cover of Neil Diamond’s ‘Hello’ the trio are the epitome of cool. The crowd lapped up the energy flying around the room beaming from the back of the stage, Frank tapped the drums and quipped in with Huey’s jokes for the opening night of their UK stint.

Although incapacitated and less mobile than usual Huey’s stage presence isn’t demeaned at all. From the spine tingling guitar rifts coming from his choice of his six guitars, his poignant words drew laughs and smiles from the crowd. Looking dapper all in black he joked that Brian had left poems around the floor to read out, the charisma and charm oozed more from the stage than his trousers. “It’s interesting what sweats when you sit down” he quipped regarding his static posture.

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Like a modern day prophet, Morgan’s poignant mid song interactions, whether due to the codeine, he reminisced on when “the only real music was made when people gave a F*&% about a cause enough to write about it”.

Treating the audience to crowd favourites like ‘Loco’, ‘Scooby Snacks’ and ‘King of NY’ the trio wowed their baying fans. Moving from side to side and singing along they loved every minute of what could easily be described as one of the most underestimated bands to grace our stages. With echoes of Carlos Santana, Huey picks up his acoustic guitar, showing us he is more than just a pretty face and joker on stage and his talent shines through. Frank apologises for the 10 year wait since the last album the crowd scream loudly as he tells them it will be worth it and thanks the crowd for braving the cold weather to come out tonight, having already gone past the venues curfew with reminiscent ditties and tales this was more than your average gig.

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Chants of “One more song” filled the air as the scattered street lamps dimly lit up the skies. Introducing Brian back on the stage, he and Frank stole the attention whilst the injured soldier plowed back on stage unsteady on his feet but determined to carry on.

The intimacy of the venue combined with Huey on his leather throne was the stuff fans had dreamt about, like a living room gig with your favourite band. With the encore being trimmed down it was time for fans to ‘Stick ‘em Up Punk’ as they played out with anthem ‘Fun Lovin’ Criminals’. Promising to come back to the UK in the summer (a tease at possible festival dates) the crowd went crazy as the funk filled evening came to an end.

Another Mimosa is out now from all good record shops on DiFontaine records.

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