FUN LOVIN’ CRIMINALS
O2 Academy, Leeds // Thursday, February 4, 2016
Celebrating FUN LOVIN’ CRIMINALS‘ debut album Come Find Yourself turning 20, Huey, Fast and Frank kicked off their UK tour in Leeds, making some of us feel rather old yet youthful as their wickedly smooth jazz-tipped rap-rock tunes took us back to 1996.
Come Find Yourself was a staple album ‘back in the day’, but it’s their big hits The Fun Lovin’ Criminal, Scooby Snacks and King of New York that have really stood the test of time for me. It’s been a while since I’ve indulged in a bit of Fun Lovin’ Criminals, so it was great to be reacquainted with the rest of the album tonight.
The trio are clearly on top form tonight. Huey, ever the loveable rogue is still very capable of melting girl’s hearts, just now with flashes of distinguished grey. Suited and booted, the band are showmen to the end, first show slip-ups are laughed off, blamed on either Fast’s pot smoking or Huey’s tequila consumption.
Easing themselves into their debut album with The Fun Lovin’ Criminal, the first of two sets is a slick reminder of my student days, all beany hats, backpacks and grip-tape-damaged skate shoes.
Huey, reminding us how much of a quality guitarist he is, teasing ultra-cool vibes from his six-string, while at the other side of the stage, Fast proved he’s still a master of multi-instrumentalism. Trumpet, Bass, keys and harmonica duties done in style. Bringing up the rear, drummer Frank is a beast behind the kit.
The delivery of the tunes tonight is backed by suitably smooth banter from a band clearly enjoying every second of the night, helping create a real celebratory atmosphere.
But because their two biggest tunes are aired early in the set – as per the album track listing – we have no big climax to build to, and I find the first set just comes to an end rather than a finish (no major gripe, just an observation). Returning to the stage to play some of their other big tunes, including Korean Bodega and their smooth finale Love Unlimited, the vibes are lifted, and the trio (like they need to) once again prove they remain a force to be reckoned with.
Apparently there’s fresh material coming from Fun Lovin’ Criminals soon – six years since their last album – and if that goes down as well as Come Find Yourself still does 20 years on, the magic is very much still there.