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Review: Fun Lovin’ Criminals – 01/02/19 – Northumbria Institute, Newcastle

07/02/2019

After 25 years together, Fun Lovin’ Criminals still play out the grooves with an inescapable energy. Their gig at Northumbria Institute was a night of celebration, with their nostalgic funk and soul making the show…

A snow storm throughout the day and icy roads meant the turn-out wasn’t as expected. Many people stuck at home, unable to make the trip into town. There was plenty of space around Northumbria Institute, but this only meant the crowd lucky enough to make it had enough room to move and groove along to the funk-tastic sounds of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals.

There was no dancing from the main man himself, Huey Morgan, however, who stuttered onto stage held up by crutches, sporting heavy strapping on his right leg. Morgan spent the gig sat down, but not on a stool or a chair found last-minute by the venue to accommodate for the New York old-timers.

He made sure his chair kept with the theme of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals. An endearingly extra plush red leather recliner awaited him as he finally stumbled on. A neat little table set up right next to him for his beverages to sit. Their stage production, as simple as it may have been, created the feeling of a New York dive bar or speakeasy found in the depths of Brooklyn.

Several new numbers, quite literally fresh of the page, fit in alongside the classics. Huey informing the crowd they wanted to craft the new material in an old school manner. Honing them on the road, citing The Clash as an inspiration for trying new things on stage, even if they don’t always work. But these new numbers only hampered the flow of the set, the stuttering nature of them meaning the show dragged in parts, it felt a little unplanned.

But overall, the trio did enough to earn forgiveness for their experimentation. Whilst Morgan was rendered static for the evening and opted to wind-up his band mates rather than share any humorous anecdotes, it was business as usual as far as the music was concerned. Two hours of funk, soul, blues and hip hop got everybody’s Friday night off to a flyer.

Each song offering the chance to dance whether it be a full-on groove or a subtle sway. It was harder to stay still than it was to groove along. Fan favourites ‘Scooby Snacks’, ‘The Fun Lovin’ Criminal’ and ‘Love Unlimited’ received a raucous reception. The predominantly middle-aged crowd hurling themselves forward and dancing along. The piercing harmonica sounds almost commanding those trying not to dance to do exactly that.

25 years into their career but certainly not slowing down anytime soon, broken leg or not, Huey Morgan’s Fun Lovin’ Criminals still possess an eclectic array of infectious music and the ability to crack you up – there aren’t many better ways to spend your Friday night.

PHOTOS: GAVIN WYATT

WORDS: JOHNNY ROGERSON

Head over to our Gig Gallery to see all the photos from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals gig…

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