Saturday night witnessed the return of Faith No More to Toronto after an almost twenty year hiatus. The band, who release their new record, Sol Invictus, next week, called it quits back in 1998, which ended a run of seventeen years together and seven albums recorded. Front man Mike Patton has gone on to be one of the more fascinating and truly original figures in rock music today with his involvement in seemingly an endless number of ventures, including Fantomas and Tomahawk as well as starting the Ipecac record label. Keyboardist Roddy Buttom started and still plays in the band Imperial Teen; drummer Mike Bordin played with various artists…including Ozzy Osborne; while bass player Billy Gould started Koolarrow Records and collaborates with a variety of different acts on his label. Late 90s era guitarist Jon Hudson is also back in the fold for the new record and tour.

Playing on a stage that was completely clad in white with flowers lining both the risers and amps, the band kept the theme going with an all-white wardrobe. They chose to ease their way into the set with the brooding, mysterious first single from Sol Invictus, “Motherfucker.” A repetitive chant of “Get the motherfucker on the phone, the phone” played as a moody keyboard laid the groundwork.

The audience was worked into a further froth with a double shot off of 1992’s genre-defying Angel Dust; “Land of Sunshine” and “Caffeine” were met with mass appeal from the sold-out hall and it even had Patton making a point to salute a guy in the audience that had been air drumming through the entire set. Even though they have a new record to push, the band were happy to oblige with more audience-friendly tracks and certainly it doesn’t get any more audience-friendly than “Epic” and “Midlife Crisis!” With Bordin pounding his toms to within an inch of their lives, while Patton was stalking the stage like some sort of wild animal, the crowd did their part with perfectly unison screams of “What is it?” Of course with Faith No More being as hard to label as they are, it seemed only appropriate that their sinister “Midlife Crisis” would feature an interlude of Boz Scaggs’ “Lowdown!”

Certainly given the time between Toronto shows, it was only fitting that the city received a set that was heavy on classic material…and it’s hard to think that any fan would have been disappointed with a roster of mid-set songs that consisted of “Last Cup of Sorrow”, “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” and “Be Aggressive.” Being as it’s early May and Prom season is in the air, Patton and Bottum took this time in the show to wax nostalgic about their own experiences…all Bottum could remember was that his involved cocaine!

The main set came to a close with a brooding take of Album of the Year’s “Ashes To Ashes” and the second single from Sol Invuctus, “Superhero”, after which a somewhat amazed sounding Patton stated that “It’s kinda weird that you’re still into us.”

In an era that has continually supported the idea of the reunion, it’s strange to hear Patton question the longevity of his fan’s devotion…hell, there is already another Toronto show lined up for Faith No More in August. Certainly anyone who was within the Sony Centre’s four walls last Saturday night had no doubts!

- Johnny Hooper