published: 19 /
Dave Goodwin enjoys a nostalgic but not rose-tinted Fun Lovin' Criminals set in Nottingham
So, we had another chance to see one of the best jazz/hip hop bands of the moment as the Fun Lovin' Criminals played Nottingham's sticky Rock City. It's crazy to think that this tour they are on marks the 20th Anniversary of the release of the band's seminal debut, Come Find Yourself.
Twenty years ago I was walking around singing 'Stick em up, punk' and the last time I saw Huey was at The Rescue Rooms on his New Yorkers tour where we caught up with him for an interview upstairs. Here he is joined by his two mates Frank Benbini and Brian Lieser in true Fun Lovin' style and as soon as they sauntered on to the stage it became aware that they still had their fun lovin' swagger.
They played a sort of two-set gig with the full first album played in full first and a shorter set of other favourites played straight afterwards. Huey has lost none of his cheeky charm and the expletives came thick and fast as usual, but what amazed me most about this gig was his mesmerising guitar playing. I can't remember him being that good - he must have been practicing because the sounds coming out of his strings were sublime with not a note wrong.
But it's not just about Huey. Both Lieser - who plays keyboard, harmonica, bass and trumpet - and drummer Frank are boss musicians in their own right. Frank hails from Leicester and has a side project with Naim Cortezzi called Uncle Frank (also featured in these pages in the past). Rock City was heaving and the news that drifted slowly around the crowd was that it was a sell-out. Judging by the upstairs rammed to the rafters that was most likely true.
Huey was on top form from the outset, drifting on stage with his drink raised high in acknowledgement to the cheering crowd. Halfway through the first set he again raised his glass to the crowd and offered a few lines from the 'I Don't Give a Fuck' song which strangely contains the title lyrics over and over. Good fun. But mainly just as the crowd was foot tapping and nodding so was I. These boys were good in the day but they seem to have got better with age. A bit like a good Châteauneuf-du-Pape or a fine Stilton, let's say. They are very tight without being over-polished and very loose and laid back at the same time if that makes sense.
The second set was shorter than the first, most likely due to the Saturday night curfew, but was still full of highlights. If you have never treated your ears to Huey apart from his stints on BBC Radio 2, then you should rectify that ASAP. I hear you'll get the chance pretty soon because the trio are back in the studio again so will they be touring with a new album? Let's hope so.
The Fun Lovin' Criminal
The Grave and the Constant
Bombin' the L
I Can't Get with That
King of New York
We Have All the Time in the World
Come Find Yourself
Crime and Punishment
We, the Three
Back on the Block
Big Night Out
Photos by Dave Goodwin