FUN LOVIN' CRIMINALS // BARROWLAND BALLROOM, GLASGOW
The eclectic sounds of Fun Lovin’ Criminals hit the Barrowland but their pop was not explosive as fans may have been hoping for.
Since the 1990s, Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ have shown a smoothly blended mix of styles and it’s kept them unable to be confined by the boundaries of genres. In their work, often, a tough, rocky, bass filled blast greets the listener. But, just as often, the sound is transformed with something lighter. The tracks are filled with hip hop rhythms, funk and jazz horn, deep blues and country charm. With six studio album, the most recent being Classic Fantastic - out in 2010 and another expected to drop in 2020, and masses of side projects, there is plenty of treasures for interested parties to discover.
FLC most notorious member is Huey Morgan who now has a feature on BBC radio 2 and is not shy of a TV appearance. In youth, he dabbled in crime but his confident, self-assured nature has resulted in a solid reputation. Frank Benbini, who drums for the band, is man of many projects. His indie music is delightful, edgy and definitely worth delving into.
At Glasgow’s legendary Barrowland Ballroom, the lads had drawn in a big crowd of youthful and not so youthful fans. And the build up to FLC was immense. The excitement from the crowd was powerful. The room was ready to let loose to the band’s trippy melodies and deep beats.
And there they were. The stage was set up quite plainly with the only décor being the band’s name written behind them. The bass-y tones of their Link Wray ‘Rumble’ cover starts up. The night has some wonderful reworks as FCL have recently released a covers album. Their Tom Petty cover, ‘Mary Jane's Last Dance,’ was one of their stand-out songs of the night; as was their brilliant version of Bobby Womack’s ‘Daylight.’
Younger fans exploded for the classic FLC tracks. When the infamous ‘Scooby Snacks’ played, of course the audience went mental. ‘Smoke ‘Em’ also got a huge reaction. This wonderfully smooth track was played well. Everything was played well. The lads all know how to use their instruments. Huey’s voice is piercing and affecting. Brian Leiser rotates his tools with ease, going from keyboards to trumpet, to harmonica. ‘Up on the Hill’ is played with a laid back style that this jazzy/hip-hop number requires.
The negatives of the night were in the band’s lack of performance. No FLC fan wants to see a night of gimmicks and unnecessary faff and no one would expect it from a band who show a critical look at society and have always followed their own direction. But there was very little interaction with the crowd and at points they dropped a bit flat. The upbeat, funky track ‘Classic Fantastic’ seemed to lose something that it has in the recorded version. ‘Loco’ also felt like it needed somethings else, something unexpected.
Fun Lovin’ Criminals still have it, whatever it is, and their work performed live sounds top notch. But to keep their edge in a saturated industry they might to lighten up and pull out cards that no one could expect. It may sound harsh to expect a band as freewheeling as they are to do something unexpected but it’s a request that comes from an awareness of what they are capable of – pushing boundaries and mixing it up.
SETLIST: | FUN LOVIN’ CRIMINALS : BARROWLAND BALLROOM, GLASGOW - 02.02.2019
Rumble - (Link Wray cover)
Hello Again - (Neil Diamond cover)
King of New York
Bombin’ the L
Up on the Hill
Big Night Out
Mary Jane’s Last Dance - (Tom Petty cover)
Daylight - (Bobby Womack cover)
The Fun Lovin’ Criminal