Fun Lovin' Criminals The Event, Brighton

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The Independent Culture
Fun Lovin' Criminals are like a Domino's pizza. With a rumbling stomach at one in the morning, you think it's the best thing in the world, the only thing you could possibly eat and you get all over-excited and drooly at the thought. Then you buy one and find that it's actually fairly flavourless. Even so, you eat the whole thing just in case it gets fabulous in the last bite. I waited for Fun Lovin' Criminals to blow my mind. I was still waiting when they played their encore, when the house lights went up, and slightly less hopefully, when I put my key in the front door.

They should be great. They have a top name (the only other decent names in pop are Kenickie, Daft Punk and Luscious Jackson). They look fantastic - there's drummer Steven Borovini in a hot pink shirt, besuited bassist, keyboardist and trumpeter Fast, and guitarist and stocky little singer Huey X in his low-slung pants with his head shaved to better show off his Italian-stallion beauty. Every single from the album has been excellent. "The Fun Lovin' Criminal" with its comedy trumpet and "Stick 'em up, punk, it's the fun lovin' criminal" hook. The current hit "King of New York", with its ridiculous refrain "La di da da/ Free John Gotti". Their breakthrough, "Scooby Snacks" was such silly, unadulterated genius that it was practically a novelty record.

The first problem for them live is that they have to follow Republica, specifically lead singer Saffron, who stays on key through a hoopla of high kicks, back-arching leaps and frenetic headshakes. She is riveting to watch, no matter how dodgy the music is. FLC slope on stage to the music from The Godfather. They like their films - "Scooby Snacks" samples from Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. "King of New York" gets its title from the Christopher Walken film. A few numbers in, Huey namechecks Harvey Keitel. But that's all it is - namechecking. There is nothing dark, thought- provoking or even remotely filmic about their live sound.

No matter - the crowd adore them. The boys in the audience are so into the New York gangster schtick that they keep shouting at the band "fuck off" as a mark of respect. The girls are here because Huey is something of a sex symbol. The truth is that you could find his goofy Tony Danza good looks on any street in Brooklyn and you could probably find a better pop star.

Introducing their cover of "We Have All the Time in the World" he says: "My girlfriend is back in New York so I'll dedicate this to Saffron's mum because I met her before the show and she seemed nice." The cover is unspectacular - not different enough from the original to be exciting, not similar enough to be a tribute. It's odd: Republica have less to work with but they play with such gusto that you could nearly mistake it for great pop. Fun Lovin' Criminals have the goods but it all falls apart on stage.