Fun Lovin’ Criminals delivered with a high-energy, thrilling performance at Manchester’s Albert Hall, writes Sophie Billington
4th March at Albert Hall
If you like it smooth, you would have had no issue with Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ tour-ending showstopper. But of course, before the show stopped, the show had to start, and it did so with the band’s eponymous hit. Its lines set the mood for the gig: “Stick em up punk, we’re the fun-lovin’ criminals”. Huey’s cool American drawl and a fantastic trumpet make the mantra less of a threat and more of a fun joke between friends.
The fun and energy that Fun Lovin’ Criminals carried made it undoubtable that hip-hop, blues and rock are a surprisingly excellent combination. Even the more blues-y songs, like their cover of Louis Armstrong’s ‘We Have All the Time in the World’, carried a great sense of optimism. The diversity between the songs got the audience asking themselves ‘ooh, where’s the next song going to be on the jazz to funk to rock to hip-hop scale?’
The setlist was unpredictable, and certainly crowd-pleasing. What helped was the venue: the Albert Hall’s inclusive atmosphere is the best combination of intimate and atmospheric, so when it’s filled with sharp and exact riffs and perfectly timed drum hits, it’s not difficult to have a good time. Speaking of the drummer, who goes by the name of Uncle Frank, his effortless drumming style doesn’t speak for his talent, but the fact that I otherwise rarely find myself mesmerised by the percussion player in a gig certainly does.
My poor timing meant that my toilet break coincided with the top hit ‘Scooby Snacks’, but the energy was great enough that no-one seemed to mind me swiftly cutting my way through to the front of the crowd to hear the last chorus. I think that speaks for itself, but to clarify, the whole audience was going. The somehow classy vibe that the rock band produced, allowed for some interesting dance-moves, so nothing was boring about this gig at all. There was just something missing for me. For reasons I can’t even identify due to the high calibre of the act, I admit that it was only slightly overwhelming. But I was, in fact, overwhelmed.
I’d tell anyone to see Fun Lovin’ Criminals, even those with an aversion to trilby hats, because I reckon that by the end of the gig they’d suddenly find them really cool. Lighthearted and engaging, I get the feeling that Fun Lovin’ Criminals really hoped that the condoms that they chucked out to their crowd-members were to get some good use.