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LIVE: Fun Lovin’ Criminals – O2 Academy, Liverpool, 16/12/2023

After a quiet few years, Fun Lovin’ Criminals have been quite prominent recently, but unfortunately it’s for all the wrong reasons.

There’s been quite the Twitter spat going on between the current line-up and former singer and heartbeat of the band, Huey Morgan, who left a while ago, but is perhaps quite (understandably) miffed that the advertising and publicity for this current tour doesn’t mention that he’s no longer a part of it. His latest tweets have been all on a similar theme of explanation.

My friends, I am not in @funlovincrims anymore.

They are just a corny tribute act now. The ‘100% Colombian anniversary album tour’ is a fraud. It’s only the original keyboard player pretending to be me, singing my lyrics like a clown and 2 guys from Leicester, who weren’t within 3000 miles of the studio.

They threatened me with some legal bullshit if I spoke up, but I spent 30 years making this band, and I’ll be damned if these cowards are gonna keep me quiet. They’ve blocked me like chumps.’

So what can we expect from “two blokes from Leicester and a clown”?

Well, rather tellingly, we are surprisingly downstairs in the smaller room rather than the big one upstairs (and it is by no means a full small room), giving some credence to calls that they are now “nothing more than a tribute act” (also H. Morgan) for this run through of their second album from 1998, 100% Colombian.

The album is more reflective sounding than the brash debut Come Find Yourself, so it will be interesting to see how the people onstage, that didn’t write the personal tales that encompass the record, interpret them.

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It’s 9:15 and the trio take to the stage without a word of introduction, launching straight into the opening three songs, ‘Up On The Hill’, the highest charting of the album’s singles, ‘Love Unlimited’ and the chilled ‘The View Belongs To Everyone’, and it’s easy to see (and especially hear) from this opening salvo that the whole set-up is not quite right.

And before I begin, I really, really wanted this to be great.

There’s absolutely no soul, no passion, no meaning input to any of these songs, this could be a cover band in a pub, not one charging £25 (or a fiver if you were party to one of those seat filling sites).

There is some muttering in the crowd re. the missing Huey (the phrase “false advertising” was mentioned a lot).

‘Korean Bodega’ is the next to be butchered, and the resulting in-song banter seems so jarring when spoken in an East Midlands accent, especially when the songs are trying to purvey a pure New York City vibe.

Having seen the FLC many times back in the day, this sadly just seems like a money grab. Fast, the new vocalist and only original member, looks like a man physically selling his soul live onstage, the dictionary definition of a man’s heart not being in something.

The Leicestarian Sugababes continue onwards with both ‘Back On The Block’ and ‘10th Street’, which seem to be reduced to just a passionless mumbling of words that mean nothing to the people up there. They are racing through these songs like they are on the run.

They may even have gotten away with it if they’d done some sort of Greatest Hits tour, rather than the album without the big hits. But this is too mellow of a record with too many unknown album tracks that this week-before-Xmas-alcohol-levels of a crowd are seemingly ready for and tracks like ‘We Are All Worried About You’, ‘Sugar’,and ‘All For Self’’ just land flat.

But, at least, there is always ‘Big Night Out’, THE single off the record, an undoubted banger.

Nope, they even manage to ruin that.

Having skulked offstage, there’s the encore, which the crowd are seemingly desperate for, and we do indeed get the big two, ‘Fun Lovin Criminal’ and ‘Scooby Snacks’, which are perfectly fine in a karaoke kinda way, although ‘Loco’ does take a beating in between them.

I wasn’t sure which side of the Huey vs the new FLC debate I would come down on, but after watching this tonight then it’s plain to see; he has all of my sympathies.

To paraphrase a once vital going concern, “Pack it in chumps, you’re not the Fun Lovin’ Criminals”.

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God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.