Faith No More @ Webster Hall

MANHATTAN, NY—Faith No More picked up where it left off 18 years ago at Webster Hall on May 13. The band opened the sold-out show with “Motherfucker,” the new single from Sol Invictus (Ipecac), its first studio album since 1997’s Album Of The Year. And while the song itself might be about accountability, it made another statement: Faith No More is still wonderfully weird.

The band reunited in 2009 for The Second Coming Tour, but this year’s return gives Faith No More a chance to evolve beyond its hits. A new album is always hit or miss. And at times the beloved band of antagonists which includes Mike Patton (vocals), Roddy Bottum (keyboard), Billy Gould (bass), Mike Bordin (drums), and Jon Hudson (guitar) seemed a little surprised themselves at how responsive fans were to the new songs.

“You like that?” said Bottum after performing “Separation Anxiety.” “It was a new song.”

“Everybody OK?” said Patton later. “You’re still here?” He pointed to the balcony. “Somebody passed out,” he said. “That fucker.” Patton snored and quipped, “Where’s the rap-metal, dude?”

But the sleepy guy was the only one nodding off. In fact, there wasn’t even a rush to the bathroom when Patton issued a “new song alert” before “Sunny Side Up” or any of the songs the band played from Sol Invictus. And even if the venue would have emptied, Faith No More didn’t seem to care. The band admits it has nothing left to prove. The members of Faith No More were performing for themselves and anyone who cared to listen.

Faith No More songs aren’t always what they appear to be. They can change genres at any time. And Patton’s impressive six-octave range lets him shape-shift without warning, whether that means thrashing, growling, shrieking, crooning or producing sounds that escape definition. The well-paced show used that uncertainty to heighten anticipation for favorites like “Epic,” “Land Of Sunshine,” “Caffeine,” “Evidence,” “Surprise! You’re Dead!” “The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies,” “Last Cup Of Sorrow,” “Ashes To Ashes,” and “Midlife Crisis,” where Patton asked the audience to sing.

“OK, you win for now,” said Patton to the crowd. “Check this out,” he said before continuing “Midlife Crisis” to the melody of Boz Scaggs’ “Lowdown.”

Another highlight was Faith No More’s cover of The Commodores’ “Easy,” where the band showed its soulful side.

“We got one more song,” said Patton, before Faith No More played a powerful, comic-strip-inspired tune called “Superhero.”

“But the good thing is it’s a new song,” said Bottum proudly.

Also known as “Leader Of Men,” “Superhero” would have been a perfect sign off, but an encore gave Faith No More a chance to play the new album’s title track “Sol Invictus” along with “As The Worm Turns,” and it presented yet another chance to subvert expectations.

“Shall we leave on a good note?” said Patton. “You got no choice,” he continued with a grin as he slipped into Burt Bacharach’s “This Guy’s In Love With You,” minus the leisure suit.

“Ready for some hippie shit?” said Patton, whimsically preparing us for yet another departure, this time the final one. The bouquets of flowers that adorned the stage and the band’s crisp white clothes seemed more symbolic now as Faith No More ended as they started, with another new tune, this time “From The Dead.”

“Thanks guys,” said Patton before leaving the stage. “You’re making us laugh up here. We really appreciate it. Take Care. Mwah.”

Well the feeling was mutual Faith No More. Mwah.