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Huey's gang pleases with a bag of hits

"WHAT'S up, family?" Aw, New York native Huey Morgan thinks of us as family. And why not?

The former marine-turned-rock star-turned-BBC broadcaster did once live in Dublin.

He owned a couple of bars here, too. "It's great to be home ... "

And it's great to see him again, especially with the old band. Fun Lovin' Criminals haven't had a hit in 13 years.

What's more, there's still no sign of a follow-up to their last album, 2010's Classic Fantastic.

Heck, there are kids out there who know Huey only from that infamous mug-smashing incident on a recent episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

But hey, as long as tickets keep selling (full house tonight), FLC will dust down their instruments, stick on their suits and sneakers and make out like a Beastie Boys tribute act performing some bizarre, harmonica-assisted rap jam at your cousin's wedding. Just kidding – that's only the intro (1996's Bear Hug).

Fun Lovin' Criminals shouldn't work. At least, not in this day and age.

A twisted hybrid of soul-tinted, lounge-act suavity, funky, hip-hop bravado and alt-rock leanings, there's not another band in the world that could pull off such a bizarre combination of styles and genres and come out the other side looking (and, indeed, sounding) so damn cool.

Against all odds, a good-humoured Huey (45) and his boys, multi-instrumentalist Brian 'Fast' Leiser and drummer Mark 'Frank Benbini' Reid, are incredibly easy to warm to.

Scooby Snacks, Loco and Where the Bums Go continue to move hips, but it's the awesome The King of New York that finds Huey (smooth vocalist, strong guitarist) in particularly playful mood.

Full marks to a hung-over 'Fast', the hardest working criminal, who juggles keyboard duties with some memorable stints on bass and trumpet. Who needs a new album?

The FLC mission statement, it would seem, is about creating a unique vibe.

And the fans know a thing or two about creating vibes (the whiff of wacky tobaccy in the air would knock a horse out).

A tight gang of players, Huey and Co. love this game.

They love us, too, raising their glasses to "that cat" James Joyce and thanking the Garda who let their leading man off the hook that one time he ... oh, er, never mind.

"There are two types of bands," says Huey, "bands who play to crowds, and bands who play for crowds". Guess which category FLC fall under.

Star Rating: HHHII


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