It’s Friday. It’s also the 4th of July, but I’m not American so I don’t really care. I guess this must be how the Germans feel when English football fans go on about winning the 1966 World Cup… It is, however, the day that I finally get to see Faith No More and THAT I really do care about.
Let’s rewind 22 years. It’s now 1992, which as it happens is a real year of musical divergence for me. I’d grown up largely on a blend of hair metal and 80’s pop, but a few hugely significant albums featured in my landscape in ’92, which really subdivided my musical appreciation. That year, me and my tape player became inseparable.
In 1992, there were a few albums that I quite literally played back to back for weeks on end, which fundamentally changed the way I was going to feel about music for the rest of my life. The most significant ones were Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – 1992: The Love Album, Nirvana – Nevermind, The Prodigy – Experience and Faith No More – Angel Dust.
I didn’t have what you could call a happy and uplifting childhood, and up until that point I had always been slightly intimidated by music that erred on the darker side, but a series of changes in my life (which thinking about it now included puberty…) led me up to a point where not only was I able to accept darker and harder music into my life, but when I did so it hit me, and hit me HARD.
Since the first time I heard Midlife Crisis, Mike Patton has blossomed into a complete icon for me. Astoundingly good voice, fit as fuck, and absolutely mad as a box of frogs. In fact, all things that still rank highly on my list of Desirable Qualities…
Faith No More played a few times in my local town in the mid 90’s, but because of the circumstances of my life at the time, I was frustratingly never able to go. They then disbanded in 1998, leaving me with nothing but an awesome back-catalogue and dreams. 11 years later they reformed, and between 2009 and 2012 they embarked on the 2nd Coming Tour which I was again unable to go to.
Then, out of the blue, it was announced that they would be playing in Hyde Park on 4th July, Barclaycard British Summer Time, along with Soulfly, Soundgarden, Motorhead, headlined by Black Sabbath. I nearly lost my shit, because Soundgarden are another band that had a massive influence on my life (1994) and then disbanded before I got a chance to see them. I got very dejected and didn’t bother trying for a ticket because I thought there was absolutely no way – with a line up like that – that I had a chance of getting one.
Well! Two weeks ago, one of my old friends from school, Jay (who has now been elevated to Utter Hero status in my life), returned from whatever godforsaken chunk of South America that he is living in these days and announced that he had a spare ticket, and – more importantly – that I could have it. I was so excited that I ran off up the pub garden in an explosion of sheer joy.
So, back to 4th July 2014, and I start out my day with a round of naked Pilates. The naked bit is not a prerequisite, nor even something I have done before; I was simply still somewhat drunk from the night before and couldn’t be bothered to even put on a robe. I followed this up with a breakfast of Cumberland sausages and a fried egg, while flitting around my house in an excited frenzy of dancing and wriggles to the soundtrack of Winamp on shuffle mode. (It’s worth noting at this point that the last two songs offered to me were Dead Kennedys – California Über Alles and Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark – If You Leave . Thanks for that utterly jarring clash Winamp.)
In the train station at Northampton, I ran into a group of 5 other people who – based on the long hair in ponytails, shorts and tattoos – I immediately assumed were also headed the same place I was. I hate to stereotype, but I was absolutely correct. Being the friendly and sociable creature that I am, I of course made a beeline for an entirely different part of the train carriage and put my headphones on so that I didn’t have to talk to anyone.
The ticket stated doors at 13:30, but the Facebook event page suggested 12:00. I was more inclined to go with the ticket so I had taken the train just after midday, which would be an hour into London and thus giving me plenty of time to get to Hyde Park for 13:30.
No. No it wouldn’t. I had chosen The Slowest Train In The World, and it didn’t actually reach Euston station in London until nigh on 13:30. By this time, I was so vexed and worried about potentially missing Faith No More that frustration and impotent fury were arcing out of my body, and I was very nearly driven by sheer stress into climbing onto the headrest of the seat in front of me, using only my fingernails for purchase. Think of an angry kitten spitting and swearing from the back of an armchair and you’re about there.
As it happens, I needn’t have worried, because if I had taken the time to check, FNM were third in the running order, and Soulfy – who were first – weren’t even due on until 14:45. However, I didn’t know that at the time, so when I hit Euston I took off like a rocket – or as close to being a rocket as you can get in the packed London Underground. I’d checked with Jay and the closest tube station for where I wanted to be in Hyde Park was not in fact Hyde Park Corner, as you might imagine, but Marble Arch. I had to change from the Northern line to the Central line, but all proceeded smoothly, if in a very stuffy and sweaty manner, given it turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year.
I arrived at Hyde Park to the blessed lack of sound of anyone playing. It was hot and sunny, with a nice breeze and lots and lots of beer tents, mostly designed to look like the set of a spaghetti western. Marvellous.
Soulfly were due on at 14:45. I am a big fan of Sepultura, Soulfly and the Cavalera Conspiracy, and would in fact probably listen to an album of Max Cavalera belching the Brazilian national anthem, but since I have managed to catch up with them and see them in Birmingham in February, they weren’t top of my hitlist for the day.
Nevertheless, your blood cannot help but stir when you hear Roots Bloody Roots kicking off, and while I got the call to say Jay was around and I went off on a mission to find him, Jump Da Fuck Up and Tribe were still tugging at me.
It didn’t actually occur to me to start making a note of the playlists until after Faith No More had started (my short term memory is disgraceful at the best of times, let alone when there are pints involved). I have no recollection of what else they played but fuck it, if it’s important to you, I’m sure someone else has posted it.
There was actually another hour until Motörhead were due on, which made for a nice chilled out pace to the day. There was a lot of sitting around, drinking beer and applying the highest factor sunscreen I could find (I didn’t trust that the 50SPF I had applied before I left would last any length of time).
I am going to take a moment here to compliment the toilet facilities. It may seem like a small thing, but when you are required to sit down and use toilet paper 100% of the time that you are in the bathroom, and based on the usual experience of a night out in Northampton, it is absolutely delightful to find more toilets than you actually need, all with sufficient toilet paper supplies, seats and locks, and none of them swimming in fluid that you don’t want to question too closely.
On the other hand, whoever was in charge of sorting out Wifi can Fuck Right Off. Seriously. I would be DELIGHTED to find that person and have stern fucking words with them. The 3G signal just wasn’t even worth mentioning, however there was a public Wifi channel you could access… although, I never really did pin down exactly where that was located. It sure as shit wasn’t anywhere near to close to where the stage was. You could pay for 24 hours premium Wifi access for £3 (reasonable) but it relied on getting on the fucking internet in the first place to pay via PayPal. After numerous attempt and an unholy amount of swearing, I managed to complete the transaction…only to find that I didn’t get access to a different all-singing all-dancing Wifi network – it was the same one, which was still equally inaccessible from where I was. I am prepared to admit that there is a chance I may have missed something, but I was not in any way pleased.
Motörhead came on at 15:45, and I have to admit that I am not a big fan. Not that I don’t enjoy their music, I have just never really paid attention. I love Ace of Spades, because that was in the first Young Ones episode I ever watched. They played it, which pleased me, but I would not have a clue about the rest of the set list. So sue me.
Faith No More were due up at 17:15, so again more wandering around in the sun, and more beer. And then came one of the most exciting moments of my adult life.
Faith No More hit the stage in full priest costumes, and opened with Zombie Eaters. Mike Fucking Patton. Right THERE.
I am pretty sure I remember what they followed up with and the order, but I still hadn’t picked up my notepad until about 4 songs in, so I make no apologies for any errors. The eventual notes I did make look like they were written by an epileptic toddler.
Anyway, to the best of my recollection, this was the actual set list, but I will be delighted to update if anyone has anything I missed.
From Out Of Nowehere
The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
Cuckoo for Caca
King for a Day
LEADER OF MEN [new track]
Ashes to Ashes
GET THE MOTHERFUCKER ON THE PHONE [new track]
We Care A Lot
Fucking awesome. They were album perfect, and Mike Patton is an absolute god. He spent some time between tracks quoting The Exorcist and anointing the crowd with, frankly, anything he could get his hands on…but largely bottled water. “The power of Christ compels you!” Combining this with the priest costumes, is this a hint for the next album, or are they just having a giggle? Who knows, we shall see. I have included a photo from a source far better placed than I was, just because it is totally warranted.
They played two new tracks, and I didn’t even realise that’s what they were. I knew that I didn’t recognise them, but I just figured they were from the King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime album that I haven’t really listened to as much. I am now stupidly excited at the prospect of a new album. Whatever the actual title of the track ends out being, what is currently being referred to as Get The Motherfucker On The Phone was fantastic. I was giddy, and grinning like an idiot. An unquiet part of my soul had been stilled and I was really really happy.
I shuffled off to get some food (incidentally, I found a spare pair of chopsticks in my pocket this morning, that I don’t remember picking up…) and I genuinely did not envy the people who had to clear this place up. There were crushed plastic beer glasses in drifts everywhere. On my way to the food stands, I saw a couple of girls merrily kicking their way through a pile of glasses like they were Autumn leaves.
I had had a brilliant day; the weather was amazing, Faith No More had been excellent, Mike Patton was just Mike Patton… what I wasn’t prepared for was for Soundgarden to be even better than Faith No More. I am not talking from the perspective of a music critic, just me, from inside my little old head.
Soundgarden played at 19:00, and they were incredible. Chris Cornell explained that since it probably wasn’t going to happen all that often again, they were going to play the whole of the SuperUnknown album. I almost came right then and there. I was sure I had heard rumours somewhere of Chris’s voice having suffered over the years, but they were absolutely not true. I managed to get a better angle on the stage and get better photos than I did with FNM.
True to his word, they played the SuperUnknown tracklist (I’ve included it for reference) although I don’t recall them playing Half – I was however distracted right when it would have been played by an impromptu 5-person circle-pit, 50m out from the stage (it goes to show that you can’t put metal fans out in the sun, with beer, and expect them not to jump about for any period of time.)
Let Me Drown
Fell on Black Days
SuperUnknown (joined by Mike McCready)
Black Hole Sun
The Day I Tried To Live
4th of July
It was mind-blowing. I am not in any way ashamed to admit that I had tears running down my face by the end of Black Hole Sun. Chris Cornell has a voice that can just make your core vibrate. At the start of each song, he spoke a little bit about the inspiration for each one, or where the title came from, and it was absolutely like being taken on a journey through the album with them.
Just before Head Down, Chris mentioned it was 20 years since the album was released. 20 years?? I reckon that is what triggered the tears after Black Hole Sun. Don’t get me wrong, his voice does funny things to me, but at that moment, I felt in equal parts like the kid who first bought the album on tape – living and breathing this music for the first time – and the adult two decades older, and it was like every experience I had had in that 20 year period hit me over the course of a song or two.
Music is a special and beautiful thing, and I swear that anyone who says they don’t really listen to music is missing a massive part of the human experience.
I was totally spaced out by the time Soundgarden finished. I knew where Jay and his friends were going to be, but I wanted to be alone and absorb what had just happened to me. There was a whole Dance section that I hadn’t noticed earlier, and it looked like some kind of carnival was going on, so I went and enjoyed that for a little while.
Black Sabbath were due on stage at 21:00, and it was a proper spectacle. They opened with War Pigs, and for a guy who can barely string a sentence together, Ozzy can still wail with the best of them. I think I read somewhere that War Pigs is 44 years old, and do you know what? It still sounds pretty damn good.
I am going to be honest here, I am not a big Sabbath fan. Don’t judge me. By the time they started playing, I was nowhere near drunk enough to throw myself into the experience, and I ended out just hanging back and observing. They were bloody good, just not anything I felt bought into.
I had had a mind blowing day, and Sabbath were not going to add anything more to it. There were shiny fairground rides and stalls selling meatballs to capture my attention.
I ended out settling on a pot of strawberries and cream, because I’m posh, innit?
I felt that I had truly taken in everything that the day could offer me, and decided to head home.
I jumped the couple of tube trains back to Euston, and headed back to Northampton just after 22:00. Some wannabee Lothario, replete with too many instrument cases to be realistic, was trying to gather himself a harem on the way back home. I was polite, but managed to duck out of the conversation while his attention was drawn by a couple of blond ladies. I was able to get my earphones in and get settled into a corner without drawing too much attention. Hello Brumlebassen! By the time I next sneaked a glance from between my eyelids, the blonds had disappeared and he had moved to the back of the carriage.
I got home completely unmolested and feeling truly happy with the world. Things that I missed out on two decades ago have now been restored unto me. All is right with the world.