Stick ‘em up punk it’s the Fun Lovin’ Criminals!
The Fun Lovin Criminals performed the entirety of 1996’s ‘Come Find Yourself’ to mark the twentieth, yes that’s right, twentieth anniversary of its release. The lights were dimmed, the air a thick mist of vapour pens and neon light. The Academy was packed for a night of highly enjoyable criminal activity.
Enter two smart mouthed, smartly dressed New Yorkers: Huey and Fast alongside long term friend and collaborator drumming Leicestertarian Frank Benbini. The trio are immensely likeable and from the moment they struck the first chords of Fun Lovin’ Criminals you could tell this was a celebration the band themselves would enjoy.
It’s not surprising that the strangers I spoke to all had JFK style reminisces of hearing this album during the 90s. From 6th Form common rooms and University dorms FLC were the antithesis of the shoe gazing angst infecting Brit-Pop and instead offered finger clicking coolness. With hints of hip-hop, jazz, rock and lounge lizard swagger- this was an album that had broad appeal. The inclusion of Tarantino dialogue also helps create the sense that Come Find Yourself is a post-modern snapshot of the 90s. Most importantly, it’s also a very good album delivered tonight effortlessly and confidently. Songs such as ‘The Grave and the Constant’ have deeply personal narratives of drug dealing and arrest; ‘King of New York’ even had the audience campaigning for the release of crime boss John Gotti (despite his death in prison in 2002). A more relatable narrative was Benbini’s story of working at the Spanish City in Whitley Bay. Small world.
Benbini’s drums were heavy and thumping, bass duties were shared over keyboards and bass-guitar by multi-instrumentalist Fast and Huey Morgan impressed as guitarist and storyteller.
Smiling throughout -jesting with swanny-whistles and put-downs laced with love, the band were grateful and thankful that their fans had stuck with them. In an earlier interview, Fast had assured me that they would be returning for an extended encore after a few shots of tequila. They didn’t disappoint with another collection of brilliant songs such as ‘Korean Bodega’ and ‘Loco.’
I forgot how much I loved Fun Lovin Criminals. It’s glad to see them back on stage with a new album on the way. I can definitely get with that.
Photographer: Victoria Ling