Fun Lovin’ Criminals packed up their Scooby Snacks and brought them to Auckland’s Powerstation. The 13th Floor’s Andra Jenkin and Ivan Karczewski caught all the action.
It’s ten to 8 and I’m again outside the Powerstation. Feeling a lot of love for this venue tonight. It’s been around since ages ago and is the transition between smaller clubs and theatres and the stadium concerts that feel a bit impersonal to me now. It’s deceptive in that once the upstairs is open you can pack in a lot of punters, all of whom are here after 25 years, to hear The Fun Lovin’ Criminals. Last on our shores for the 1999 Big Day Out the 100% Colombians from New York are back.
Their infamous Scooby Snacks were a favourite when we were all tripping our heads off in late 90s, and their upbeat, happy comedy hip hop is just what the doctor ordered tonight. The music is well curated through the Powerstation speakers. It’s got swing and mystery and there’s a sense of adventure in the air. We are the OG ride or die FLC fans and we’re loving the chill, funky moody numbers.
But first up is a homegrown sound, Goodshirt with some good shit. The lads are having some tech issues, a 25-year-old keyboard is being blamed but Gareth Thomas is battling to fix it before it’s his turn to chime in. He’s bloody done it and the crowd cheer, the boost picking up the mood and carrying it along with the melody. They play the crowd favourites, a song about Hamilton (“…pretend it’s Fiji Baby,”), Lucy, and of course Sophie. The crowd at the front are dancing, enjoying the locals, and I hear a few nostalgic reminiscences about where people last saw them play (for me it was a house party in Mt Eden) and they were as crash hot then as they are now. I thoroughly recommend going along next time they have a gig. We’ve all had a sing and a sway but I can tell the crowd are saving up some energy for the main act.
There’s a concerning amount of mucking about at this point. A lot of it aimed at the recalcitrant keyboard. Just at the point things seem interminable, the sound system plays, “We’ve been waiting a long time.” The opening strains of an early version of, The Boys are Back in Town. It’s got to be a dj with a sense of humour because the latest version has already been played. But then the lights go down and Sinatra’s New York, New York starts playing.
Fun Lovin’ Criminals
Brian ‘Fast’ Leiser (keyboard and trumpet – founding member), Frank Benbini (drummer – joined in 2003) and Naim Cortazzi (guitar – stepping in after Huey Morgan stepped down in 2021) take the stage and are greeted with screams and yells from the audience. Here are the Fun Lovin’ Criminals proper and we are super excited to hear them.
They are fun and funky and smooth. There’s the jazz feel and the hardcore thrash elements, the comedic lyrics – who can forget the sweet sound of Supermodel on My D, or the smooth, Bump, which tells the story of a straight man meeting the finest girl of his life at Gay Night.
I knew I’d know the big singles, Scooby Snacks and their title song, but I knew every single one. They played all the bangers, and while I have no idea why anyone would want to Free John Gotti, he was an infamous New York gangster from the Gambino crime family charged with 5 counts of murder, but the Fun Lovin’ Criminals wrote a damn good song about it called King of New York, and it’s not like they’re called the Fun Loving Law Abiding Citizens, they warned us. As I hear Smoke ‘em starting I knew I’d be smelling weed soon enough, and I wasn’t wrong. A joint flew over my head at the band, but they were quick to assure us they were covered already.
Korean Bodega, Up on the Hill, There was a Time and Too Hot were all as good as ever. Barry White Saved my Life brought back memories and the View Belongs to Everyone was all inclusive too. There was up close and personal hip hop when Frank came out from behind the drums and pulling a girl from the crowd, danced with her, then joining the guys in rapping too, climbing down into the pit to deliver high 5s and generally making the show an interactive experience.
It was a hell of a show. Held on the same night as concert in the park, and on a rainy night at that, The Fun Loving Criminals was the best place to be.
Andra notes: The after party was at Ding Dong, and for those able to navigate the labyrinth that town has become, it included the actual Fun Lovin Criminals, with Brian and Frank djing downstairs and Naim chillin in a booth, with a suitably tough looking minder.
Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Ivan Karczewski
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