Gig review: Fun Lovin’ Criminals at O2 Academy Leeds

Fun Lovin' Criminals
Fun Lovin' Criminals
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Bespectacled, besuited and elegantly greying on top, Huey Morgan might look more the middle-aged statesman these days than the leader of a bunch of Fun Lovin’ Criminals but there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had in this 20th anniversary commemoration of his band’s debut album.

A multi-million seller in 1996, Come Find Yourself was nonetheless something of anomaly in a year dominated by Britpop, Big Beat and the Spice Girls. Yet its fusion of hip-hop, rock, funk and lounge music has grown steadily influential in the ensuing two decades since its release.

Here in a live setting, the compact trio of Morgan, Brian ‘Fast’ Leiser and English drummer Frank Benbini recreate it in engaging style. While Morgan sticks to guitar and lead vocals and Benbini keeps a steady 4/4 beat, Leiser multi-tasks on bass, keyboards, trumpet and harmonica while lamenting having drunk “two too many” tequilas.

The album’s stand-out songs – Fun Lovin’ Criminal, The Grave and The Constant, Scooby Snacks and King of New York – are greeted like old friends by an audience who, judging by their collective appearance, are mostly of a similar vintage to the band themselves.

And deservedly so because these renditions possess all the warmth, affability and playfulness of old. If some perhaps have only hazy memories of who the New York gangster remembered in King of New York is, they nevertheless happily join in with the chant of “Free John Gotti”.

Leiser teases Morgan about his glasses – “He should be in Devo” – and the band gently shuffle through a cover of Louis Armstrong’s We Have All The Time in the World.

Before the album’s closing track, Methadonia, Morgan recalls writing it after watching the “crazy” drug addicts outside a nightclub where he and Leiser were then working.

Its rock riff still packs a punch – as, it has to be said, do its creators, 20 years on.

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