It seems almost unreal that 16 years have passed since the release of Fun Lovin' Criminals' debut album Come Find Yourself.
The album packed in and capitalised upon the 90's Hollywood gangster themes that saw every student punk "stick 'em up" posters (sorry) of either Mr Black, Blue, Orange or Pink, whilst spending heady days quoting Tarantino lines. But it was the Fun Lovin’ Criminals that put these themes to music and, ultimately, provided the soundtrack.
Off the back of the buzz of the first two Quentin films, the latter of which (Pulp Fiction) lent dialogue samples to the band's biggest hit 'Scooby Snacks', the album made us all forget the grittiness we were taught by the cinematic violence of the 1970's gangster movies or the decadence of 'Goodfellas' in the eighties, and let us somewhat romanticise the modern, sensitive gangster as postmodern, slapstick, street-opera where the (Tony) Soprano would ultimately reign supreme.
Now six records in, the ironic ‘gangsta’ theme has proved short-lived, barely stretching patience past the second record, but frontman Huey Morgan's acclaimed BBC 6 Music show has seen him adopted into the British psyche where he takes on a tea-drinking ’Britishness’ whilst popping a cap in ones downtown, New York ass.
Tonight's show at a sold-out Hard Rock Cafe comes with a hefty £20 ticket, but with a charitable cause tied up in the car boot. The show sees a hardcore of fans - some young, but mostly old - getting down to what undeniably are a super string of hits, that if performed by any other front-man might seem stale and stilted.
Marking their arrival on stage with FLC anthem 'It's the Fun Lovin' Criminal' (in case any of us were in any doubt), the smooth three piece immediately transport Manchester's Hard Rock Cafe across the Atlantic and back 15 years to downtown New York, with their evocatively funky blend of jazz and hip hop that still sounds as fresh today as it did in the 90s.
The band continue to generously dish out the hits including 'Bump' and 'Love Unlimited' (Barry White Saved my Life); Huey's newly instated Anglophilia revealing itself through between-song musings, with the British weather and 'Essex tans' forming subjects of amused chit chat.
The climax of the set - for the audience, at least - inevitably comes with the Fun Lovin' Criminals' biggest hit 'Scooby Snacks'; which is delivered with enthusiasm and boundless charisma despite this being the band's 12,017th rendition of it. Or thereabouts.
The intimate atmosphere of this special show is further enhanced when Huey halts the gig to bring out a surprise cake for band mate Fast; before leading the crowd in a swaggering rendition of 'Happy Birthday' as the bashful multi-instrumentalist blows out 40 candles.
The hits continue to flow, as the band effortlessly glide through 'King of New York' 'We, the Three' and 'Loco' before Huey lends his velvet tones to the Louis Armstrong classic 'We Have All The Time In The World' to round the evening off.
The greenbacks waved in the air tonight are all Monopoly, but somehow Huey, as always, has been afforded the ability to skip jail, pass through GO and always collect his $200. He presents his songs and himself with such a wry smile and general warmth that makes him part aristocracy, part gangster and all round nice guy.
A great night of fundraising for the Bombay Teen Challenge, and one which showcased exactly why this seminal band continue to charm and inspire nearly two decades after their inception. Nice one, punks.
Words: DP & JR
Originally published: 30th Mar 2012