It was amazing to see Faith No More back in Europe again after last year’s summer off and the Usce Park in Belgrade and the Belgrade Calling provided a somewhat bizarre setting for the second date of their European tour.
I know some people have commented on the shortened setlist so I’ll attempt a simple explanation. Despite the first act being billed to start at 1745 local time, the somewhat heavy-handed security did not even allow people into the venue until 1815 and it soon became obvious that Ugly Kid Joe would now be starting their set any time soon and roadies and techs endeavoured to sort out a sound problem on stage (by the way why are all roadies everywhere always English?). So the running order for the fest was about 90 minutes behind all day and all bands – possibly with the exception of PIL – played truncated sets. Faith No More did not even take to the stage until 0045 and then there were some immediate sound problems. Factor in the fact that they were booked on a four-and-half-hour charter flight to Perm for 3am, then the short set makes sense. There were no more songs listed on the printed setlist by the way.
After that delayed start I actually thought that the sound from the main stage at the festival was excellent and agreeably louder than at most festivals – perhaps due to Serbia being free from EU decibel controls. But the FNM set was dogged by mic (not Mike) issues from the start, with sound techs scrambling round to fix cables and tame the savage beast that eventually resulted in Mike P striking out at a hapless tech.
I only had a brief time in the Serbia capital but I’d highly recommend Belgrade for a visit. I get the feeling that this is the time to visit as gentrification and a tourist takeover is about 5-10 years away. But now the city remains raw and real. And hot, very, very hot. It was over 35 degrees each day I was there. As for the festival, it was small and boutique and generally very enjoyable. But it was quite obvious that this was the first year of the fest. Information was scarce, food stalls amounted to one chip fryer and a popcorn stand (there was, however, no shortage of beer tents). Band-wise, Ugly Kid Joe looked game on their comeback and singer Whitfield Crane could not contain his admiration for Faith No More either during his performance or when watching from the side of the stage. The Horrors’ new shoe-gazing could have been out of place on a summer festival stage but they delivered and Roddy Bottum was a keen observer from the side of the stage. PIL were better live than on record with Johnny RottenLydon at his snarling best (I found that both The Horrors and PIL each have a little bit of FNM DNA in there somewhere), while The Darkness are back to their 2003 vintage complete with catsuits and caterwauling.
A little bit of an oddity this. If you are in a Faith No More tribute band, what do you do on the night Faith No More play in your city? Well, for Face to Face the sensible idea seemed to be to play a rival gig. Their posters were even cheek by jowl with FNM posters across the city:
Apart from his techie contretemps, Mike also found time to pay a tongue-in-cheek Digging the Grave tribute to new Serbian president Tomislav Nikolić. This was largely met with a chorus of boos from the audience. Lazar explains the reference in Comments: “Digging the Grave was dedicated to Serbia’s newly elected president, followed by somewhat of a boo from the crowd. I guess it was just Patton being Patton, not really meant seriously or without any political agenda. The new guy we just got… Well I think it’s safe to pronounce him conservative, so he would probably not be the choice of a typical Serbian FNM fan, to put it that way…One more thing about Digging the Grave being dedicate to the new president. It actually makes sense, if you know the inside joke (and somebody must’ve told it to the guys): before becoming politically active, our new president used to be a superintendant (a manager of some sort) of a cemetery in a town in central Serbia). Because of this his nickname for years has been “grobar”, meaning undertaker or gravedigger. So there you have it – gravedigger, Digging the grave…”
Mike also did his usual taking over the TV camera bit during Just a Man.
Photo via the lovely Nina Ackerman
As you can see from the pic of me up above, Faith No More had some new merchandise on sale at the festival. I picked up the white “Afterlife” tee and a nifty (though possibly more for girls) black t-shirt with red print while there was also another black tee with front and back prints and a black hoodie.
Pic via faithnomoreblog on Facebook
The new song was played again in Belgrade and I’ll eventually get my video of it plus some more info later today.
Mike and the techie got quite a bit of media coverage
Leading tabloid Blic on techie
Blic on Digging the Grave
TV and radio station and general media behemoth B92 reported that: “The greatest excitement was caused when Patton as an encore in Serbian sang “Come on, Jano,” much better than at the Novi Sad festival “EXIT” in 2010. Although the concert was delayed for over an hour because of the whole program, but the scenery and set demanding, patient audience was rewarded with an excellent concert by the famous band.”
Meanwhile, 24 Sata reckoned FNM were worth the wait.