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FUN LOVIN' CRIMINALS
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DATE:
VENUE:
Thursday 16th February 2017
The Engine Shed in Lincoln, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
THE URBAN VOODOO MACHINE
THE URBAN VOODOO MACHINE
www.theurbanvoodoomachine.com
The Urban Voodoo Machine... where to start... Sole support band this evening, they walk in slow procession down a staircase, onto the stage, to the theme from 'The Godfather'... and then all demented hell breaks loose, with an assault on the senses that offers up a fully immersive experience of pure unhinged entertainment. Part mariachi; part Gypsy punk; part psychobilly; part blues; part rock 'n' roll; part cabaret; part unidentifiable... and totally deranged! This musically delirious circus, led by Norwegian ringmaster Paul-Ronney Angel, deliver a masterclass in how to play to another band's audience and win over everyone... and I mean everyone! Infectious tunes, with sing-along choruses and refrains galore, come thick and fast during their 45 minutes set, as the eight musicians (although I understand their personnel swells to a greater number, on occasion), deliver a sonically invigorating performance, incorporating all manner of instruments (kudos to their sound guy for mixing everything into a coherent whole).

And it's not just about the music, as The Urban Voodoo Machine offer up a show that's as much a spectacle for the eyes as it is a feast for the ears. A touch of Vic and Bob style humour rears its head when Angel anti-climactically balances his hat around the stage after multiple big build-ups. And he makes a big event from wringing out his sweat-soaked head bandana... and just when it seems no more sweat will squirt forth, he announces, "wait, there's more". Other band members have their moment with the audience, including accordion/keys guy Slim, who informs the crowd he took a walk up Steep Hill earlier... "they weren't fucking kidding; I was two stone heavier before!" (...as local folks will be aware, Steep Hill, Lincoln's ascension into Castle Square, is, as indicated by its namesake, rather fucking steep). And despite all the buoyancy and frolics, The Urban Voodoo Machine's aesthetic is tinged with a quasi-darker element. One of the band's two percussionists, The Late J-Roni-Moe, sits behind his skull-clad kit, wearing corpse paint, and has an ever so slightly sinister and menacing gaze. If KISS were a black metal band, then this is the guy who'd be their sticksman.

No words, or photos for that matter, will do this lot justice. This is a band that needs to be experienced LIVE. Exciting discoveries such as The Urban Voodoo Machine don't come around all that often. This bunch of nutters have the potential to be massive. Watch this space. Imagine a more fucked-up, more musically expansive Gogol Bordello. That's only part way to comprehending the nutterdom of The Urban Voodoo Machine. Go check 'em out now!
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Fun Lovin' Criminals at The Engine Shed in Lincoln, UK, 16th February 2017
Photograph copyright 2017 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
FUN LOVIN' CRIMINALS
www.funlovincriminals.co
Out on the road last year to celebrate two decades since the release of their debut album, Fun Lovin' Criminals opted to perform 'Come Find Yourself' in its entirety. Continuing their celebrations into 2017, this trio of genre iconoclasts had been booked for another run of shows, and mid-February saw them return to Lincoln's Engine Shed, nearly six and a half years after they last performed in the city's premier gig venue.

Appearing on stage to John Williams' 'Superman' theme, Huey Morgan, Brian "Fast" Leiser and Frank Benbini assume their positions and immediately commence with the eponymously titled track from their debut, 'The Fun Lovin' Criminal'. With a heathy dose of fun on the stage and a lot of lovin' from the audience, the Criminals work their way through a set that doesn't quite cover the entire of 'Come Find Yourself', but this leaves room for several other fan favourites and even a couple of songs from their most recent studio album, 2010's 'Classic Fantastic'.

The banter's prevalent between songs, as Huey, Fast and Frank exchange mock-insults and amusing stories with each other and the audience, with Fast utilising a slide whistle for each punchline. Frank can even be seen multi-tasking on occasion - drinking with one hand, while bashing his snare drum with the other. There's such a relaxed, fun vibe about the place. And as smoke jets at the front of the stage propel their discharge high into the air at key points, it becomes ambiguous whether Huey was even aware these were part of the band's setup, prior to the show. Each time the pyrotechnics spring to life, it seems to take the frontman by surprise, who shows his metal horns while looking perplexed, and even sings a line from Europe's 'The Final Countdown' at one point, in a quizzical manner!

Musically, the band are incredible this evening, and with a fantastic sound and mix through the PA. And when Huey cranks up the crunch on his guitar, with a discernible bite to his distortion, it flavours some songs with a heavier punch in their live form. With the rock elements (verging on metal heaviness, it could be said, in places, tonight) mixed up with their cross-genre fusion of hip-hop, blues, jazz and soul, this inimitable bunch remind Lincoln just why they've always been revered as "no compromise", genre-free rebels. Every tune sounds as fresh as the day it was first released.

After an hour and forty minutes on stage, and a string of timeless tunes later, the Criminals climax just before 11pm with a rousing rendition of 'Big Night Out', and its anthemic closing bars provide a fitting finale to a flawless show that oozed cool, conviviality and considerably great fucking music, in equal measure.
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