Fat White Family's first gig of four at Hackney's EartH was a surprising one. Surprising because they seemed content? Surprising because, despite Baxter Dury being in the building for a DJ set, they didn't play their summer hit "Tastes Good With The Money"? Surprising because, for the first time in years, they seemed to have it all under control.
It's no secret that the presence of the Fat Whites is notoriously wild, debaucherous and messy. But this year, with the release of their third album Serf's Up! they seem to have hit their stride and found peace. The various drug addictions that have seen the band sever and then come back together again have calmed down somewhat. Wounds have healed, feelings have matured, and while the political climate is seriously exasperating for all, a band has emerged that is able to unite souls and engulf the madness.
Fat White Family are playing four consecutive nights at Hackney's EartH in order to close off their UK tour for the year. Tonight - the first - they are accompanied by nonchalant noise makers Working Men's Club, who’s deep synthy movements will make them ones you'll want to keep an eye on in 2020. Despite the enormity of the tour at hand and the following nights to come, Fat Whites remain a band of the people at every gig.
This is most clear in the fact that frontman Lias Saudi can't resist getting down in the crowd more often than being up on the stage and in the spotlight. Less than halfway into opener "Auto Neutron" he is sweatily screaming lyrics with the fans, and this continues at least every other song. Despite having released an album this year, this didn't seem to be a night of showing off Serf's Up!, but rather a greatest hits set balancing their other two albums equally, as well as splashing out on standalone singles "I Am Mark E Smith" and "Touch The Leather". However, anything could be in store for the next three nights.
Something felt particularly special about tonight though when co-conspirator Saul Adamczewski was left alone to play an old tune, "The Drones", and Songs for Our Mothers' Nazi satire "Goodbye Goebbels", leaving the crowd in a kind of sombre trance that you're not used to at a Fat Whites gig.
But insanity is always readily at hand, to bury any other feelings, with hits like "Feet", "Whitest Boy On The Beach", and "Is it Raining in Your Mouth?" sending everyone into a frenzy to close off the night with. They're still messy, they're still dangerous, but now Fat White Family have overcome their demons that have set them back in the past and become a band you want to see live, not for the car-crash but for the sheer human connection.
They play EartH again tonight, with Peeping Drexels and Sweat, tomorrow with Meatraffle and Madonnatron, and on the 5th with Pregoblin and Muckspreader. The struggle continues.
I Am Mark E Smith
Heaven On Earth
Touch The Leather
Hits Hits Hits
Cream Of The Young
When I Leave
I Believe In Something Better
Whitest Boy On The Beach
Is It Raining In Your Mouth?