If you read a certain kind of publication (i.e. music mags) you'll have seen recently the news that one of the 1990s' great alternative bands, Faith No More, are reforming.
They were a massive band for me, and like all good bands, their influence has grown with time. If you'd asked me at the time (that's the early 90s), I wouldn't necessarily have put them up there with the likes of Guns N' Roses, Skid Row and Aerosmith as bands that meant the world to me, but while some of the material by those bands has lost its appeal as I've got older and my musical taste has spread much further than metal, Faith No More sound as good as ever now.
Specifically for me, it was all about 1992's Angel Dust album. While the band found fame with 1989's The Real Thing (which included the appropriately titled single Epic and From Out Of Nowhere), it was the follow up to that album that really caught my imagination.
It was, and still is, weird, heavy, melodic, nasty, aggressive, beautiful, serene and jolting in equal measures, and the soaring choruses of Midlife Crisis, Everything's Ruined and A Small Victory are really where the whole thing comes together, with Mike Patton's voice taking on new levels of grace that much of the rest of the record belies.
The band are reformed (minus guitarist Jim Martin) and playing some festivals, including the UK's Download at Donnington in June (their first live show together in 11 years).
I only saw them once, and that was on the Angel Dust tour, at Birmingham's NEC, and as befitting of such a band, it was the strangest gig I've ever been to. We were sitting stage right half way up the side, so had a great view of the stage and for the whole show Mike Patton was swinging his mic and hitting Jim Martin with it - it kind of looked playful but was so persistent that I thought it must have been annoying for the guitarist, to say the least. I'd picked up in magazines about some sort of animosity in the band between Martin and Patton, and here it was in very public fashion right before my eyes. I always felt sorry for Martin, as Patton picked on him mercilessly in interviews, and I seem to remember that he was given the nickname "Big Sick Ugly". But then a few years later, after the band had fallen apart I think, I read somewhere that Patton had been more explicit about the problems and that the cause of the problem was Martin's behaviour - I don't remember the specifics, and what I can remember I won't repeat here because I don't want to pass on half-truths, but it was pretty unpleasant stuff. So although Patton probably wasn't dealing with his bandmate in the most adult manner, perhaps there was some vague (albeit childish) justification for his dislike of Martin. Either way, it made me realise that you can never really side with someone, anyone, who's involved in a public spat, without knowing all the details.
The gig at the NEC was also memorable for the right reasons - they were on top form and three quarters of the way through, a couple of people took off the seat covers and started tossing them on the stage - before too long, 15,000 people had taken off the seat covers and the air was literally swarming with seat covers, like some giant plague of faux-leather locusts. Mike Patton got a bunch of these on the stage and lined them up so he could do gambols up and down the row of cushions. As far as gig spectacles go, I don't think I'll ever forget those flying cushions. If only they had seats at Donnington, it would be a moment well worth replicating.
Oh, and I've just remembered, FNM keyboardist Roddy Bottum (great name) has the same birthday as me, giving the band yet another reason to hold a special place in my heart. Good to have them back.