This was always going to be a tricky column to write. I have been fortunate enough to attend a diverse series of classic gigs in my lifetime. Should it be Rammstein, as who else can detonate, incinerate, and otherwise systematically destroy their own stage (so much so that afterwards the Nottingham Ice Arena had to be closed for three days to let the ice refreeze)? Should it be the timeless Riders of the Storm (formerly the Doors), who played a stand-out set in Sheffield's Corporation, at which keyboardist Ray Manzarek commented, "In the 60's we took LSD to make the world look weird. Now we take Prozac to make it look normal." In all honesty, however, it could be none other than the first time I saw the Fun Lovin' Criminals play live.

Ever since listening to their first albums 'Come ​Find Yourself' and '100% Columbian', I had been wanting to see the Fun Lovin' Criminals. Its members had – and still have - a reputation as being the coolest guys in rock, and their music was eminently identifiable. They are a band like no other. During my final year at Sheffield University I at last had the opportunity to watch them play live, and persuaded two friends to join me for the night.

Doncaster Dome (or the flashing nipple, as it is locally known) is not an ideal place to see such a quintessentially New York band. For the starters, the gig was in a sports-hall, which was still marked out for basketball, and we had to walk-through the sports centre to gain access. As atmospheres go, it was distinctly lacking...

The opening band was an unusual choice, yet nonetheless a successful one, as the cyber-trance Indian Ropeman warmed the crowd nicely. Despite the band's front-man staring down the entire crowd, Indian Ropeman succeeded in having everyone bouncing along to their beats.

After a thirty minute change-over Huey, Fast, and Mackie (who would later leave the FLC) finally strutted onto the stage. Huey, with a twinkle in his eye and a roguish grin, demanded, “Everybody be cool, this a robbery”, the opening lines from 'Scooby Snacks'; to which everyone shouted back the following line to Huey's obvious approval. In fact Huey's obvious pleasure, at the enjoyment their music brings (he often extends songs that the crowd particularly like) is what make the Fun Lovin' Criminals such a great band to see,

The Fun Lovin' Criminals are a band who consistently play better the more a crowd enjoys themselves. That night, although a significant proportion of the audience seemed to be people just out for a Saturday night, Huey and the boys played an awesome gig. Despite the chilled out nature of their music, the Fun Lovin' Criminals had the entire hall bouncing along to their music - even their chill out tracks!

The set list has been lost to distant memory, but what stands out from that night are the ancillary moments. These include Huey quipping between tracks and commenting how he was setting up the Huey School of Jokes. The whole band would also enact scenes from iconic gangster movies between tracks as well. These moments between songs, where the band engage with the audience, added to the fun nature of the night.

After a fantastic ninety-minute set, including a ground-shaking encore, I staggered out of the sports-hall into the cool April air, to collapse onto a patch of grass. I was exhausted, had sprained both my ankles, and was dehydrated, yet still I couldn't be happier.














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Commenting On: Fun Lovin' Criminals, Dome, Doncaster, 1999 - Gig of a Lifetime








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