Smashing bodies, crowd surfing, flying spit and booze: Fat White Family gigs are a cut above – especially considering this was a Sunday night upstairs at the O2.
Plenty has been written about the band's nihilistic lyrics, scuzzy psych-rock sound and drink-and-drugs-fuelled life (both on- and off-stage). And none of it is wrong. But it still doesn't prepare you for what an incredible experience it is to see the band live.
Front man Lias Saudi doesn't strip to the waist (a tame evening by all accounts) as a ploy to the crowd. Rather (it seems) he feels the only way he can perform the grubby, menacing misery of Fat White Family's songs is to reduce himself down to the sack of meat and fluids that we all essentially are.
It's raw and it's disgusting; a far cry from the 'crazy' 'dangerous' stuff that the NME tends to just love. It's the crap of life expressed through incredibly well-written and stunningly-played songs.
Lest we forget it's the songs that make it all work. Fat White Family know how to build a song, layer by layer, winding the crowd tighter and tighter before releasing the coil in screaming, convulsing climaxes. Underlying their sound, helping them to enslave the crowd to their rhythm, is a classic, British 60s rock-and-roll vibe: think the Kinks or The Who. Irresistible.
Mixing the old with the new, we swayed and shuddered to the far out, organ powered 'Auto Neutron', debauched ourselves with 'Satisfied', a blurred glam number, oddly echoing of Julie Driscoll's cover of 'This Wheel's on Fire', and cried out to 'Touch the Leather', the band's dirty, sensuous anthem.
Before we slip into the final shirtless climax of the evening though, attention must be paid to Fat White Family's support act, Meatraffle. They are incredibly hard to define, but absolutely captivating. Self-described as 'psychedelic socialist utopian, death ragga, erroneous funk, bastard music', they blend live trumpet, distorted droning lyrics and a roots beat to arrive at a violently political, British-esque Calexico…something. Whatever it is, it's refreshing and very, very good.
And so we return to the semi-shirtless mosh pit, sweating and loud, raising Lias above their heads and grasping for his bottle while Saul Adamczewski anchors the set with his terrifying stare and talented guitar work until things finally smash and disintegrate leaving Fat White Family reverberating around a very lucky collection of sweating meat, who just witnessed something great.