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Fun Lovin' Criminals

Funk-hip-hop-rockers celebrating 20 years since release of 'Come Find Yourself' album
O2 Academy Oxford, 190 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1UE, Thu 11 February 2016

February 12, 2016
'There's no doubt this band is aptly named: fun lovin' is exactly what they are.'

'We're here for YOU. Thank YOU.' That's what made this gig a little bit different; the Fun Lovin' Criminals weren't in Oxford to sell anything. They were here because they could be and they love playing as much as their fans love seeing them play.

Celebrating 20 years since the release of their debut album, Come Find Yourself, the smart, swaggering trio are on tour playing those favoured tracks, with every line from 'Lad di da di, free John Gotti' through to the ubiquitous 'Running around robbing banks all wacked off on Scooby snacks.'

After rolling on stage to the Star Wars theme tune the FLC launch straight into their eponymous track – and their sound is tight. They veer through hip-hop to blues, funk and a few more diversions besides, but they tie it together cleanly – in part, it seems, out of pure confidence.

There's no doubt this band is aptly named: fun lovin' is exactly what they are. In between tracks, Huey regales us with tales of song writing and the time he met BB King. 'It's BB,' he was told, 'Mr King was a prophet.' 'That's a heavy sentence,' says Huey; he's not wrong.

Huey is a talented guitarist, wailing out some impressive blues riffs and occasionally adding just the right touch of tremolo. Those strings faced stiff competition for our attention, however from his always-on charisma and verbal dexterity.

Fast on the other hand was deadpan, flashing a twinkle of something dark behind that sharp-suited exterior. Again a multi-talented musician, he slipped seamlessly between bass, keyboards, trumpet and harmonica, lifting each track as he went.

And, of course, there was Leicester-born (yes he made reference to a certain team's current league position) Big Frank, providing swinging rhythm on the drums. Together they kept our heads nodding and our lips curling throughout.

Once the album reprisal was done, it was time to relax. And rolling through hits like 'Loco' and 'Korean Bodega', the band started to feel the effect the champagne they had sprayed over the audience and really let loose.

It's unfortunate that Huey yelled out 'hope you get to have sex without a condom tonight' before the big finale of Big Night Out. Up to that point their macho front had been in good humour – but I guess, while they're fun lovin' you can't pretend they don't have a grittier side – they are the Criminals after all.

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