Live: We Care A Lot..? Faith No More & Martina Topley-Bird, O2 Academy Brixton.

Trolling the listings of the O2 Academy Brixton, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were stranded back in some now glorified epoch somewhere or other around the early '90s: alt.rock pinups Incubus played last night; electronica luminaries Orbital are down for December. According to digitalised scriptures, rave was at its peak and the likes of Incubus and rap metal forebearers Faith No More were approaching the acme of their antagonistic powers. Cramming Mike Patton's full-frontal, reformed and now almost exclusively festival headlining five-piece into a contemporary relevance however proves somewhat problematic, primarily as their most recent work is as old as I was when I first crept the shattered glass-strewn paving stones of Brixton and the sticky carpets of its illustrious 'Academy.

If some things change with a disorientating speed of whimsy as time chugs on like a crunchy power chord clunked out of Jon Hudson's arsenal of Gibson – the sponsorship of this sodding establishment for one – then other eventualities stand resolute. The seething aggression spewing from the lips of the regular array of iniquitous touts that line the top of the tube for instance remains as rancourous as it ever was. Needless to say tonight they do some sterling business, and certainly more so than the last time I was privileged enough to witness Patton within these very same surrounds. Then operating under the guise of Peeping Tom (his sensational and scandalously underrated trip pop project featuring the likes of Amon Tobin, Massive Attack, Dan the Automator, erm, Norah Jones), a work within a sequential if never logically linear catalogue of other endeavours ranging from avant-sludge Ipecac act Fantômas, to the off-kilter insanities of Tomahawk, to Laborintus II – a recent collaboration with Jean-Luc Plouvier's Ictus Ensemble documenting an anarchic orchestral experimentation of sorts – Patton is nothing short of pioneering. Like or loathe, his curating of the Nightmare Before Christmas of 2008 alongside the Melvins ought to be explicated for lucid exhibition of this irrefutable and indeed objective verity. Thus that tonight was once promoted by ATP Concerts and now by the as yet equivocal Willwal Ltd. should come as little surprise, as ought the support booking of soulstress Martina Topley-Bird who could quite conceivably have featured on Peeping Tom's eponymous and indeed only LP.

Of a similarly skewed, tripped-out jazz ilk to, say, Caipirinha she demonstrates a fair amount of courage in coming out at all, and is soon subjected to a quite despicable disaffection. Like watching a candle attempt to catch light in a whistling gale, she's vociferously shouted down; whistled at; heckled facetiously and yet still she enthrals. Mercifully, if miraculously audible atop the hydrophobic cries of "Get off! You're shite!" and similar garble (if you've wound up here for whatever reason and partook in comparable contempt, well, fuck you) Poison is given a primordial marimba workout that's flexed about some real smoky vocals; Intro embellished with a granular spit'n'shine soul; Phoenix reborn as a minimal pop ballad of maximum quirk. Granted, Topley-Bird never emerges from the flames of this car-crash of ignorant abhorrence but she remains still; strong; unperturbed.

Educational not only in terms of expanding palatable taste but also in onstage equipment – "This is called a loop station", she misguidedly condescends prior to a sumptuous Baby Blue – ears unfortunately remain slammed shut. It's the sort of reaction one may expect would be reserved for the organisers of last weekend's Bloc. were they ever to actually stage anything in the capital. Mechanically rambunctious Quixotic cut Too Tough To Die then ruffles a few more forearm hairs in what is a considerably more rocky denouement that tonight comes across as a prototypal Probot, were Topley-Bird to replace the significantly less alluring Lemmy on vocal duties. The subtle theme of tribalism runs up until the last too, whilst its title serves as a surreptitious statement of intent on her behalf: the odd plastic cup comes flung in her general direction and yet she strives to continue long beyond her allotted timeframe without ever so much as even flinching. She eventually departs to an elaborate, stick-swizzling drum solo courtesy of her balaclava-modelling "Ninja" accomplice as qualms and inconsideration recede – or are rather rattled loose by some quite stentorian snare. It's on nights like tonight that – ignominious audience aside – you begin to wonder how and why Topley-Bird never made it. Not into the hecklers' wildest dreams – there be Hetfield and horrendous facial hair you suspect – but into a far greater cultural consciousness.

The fallout from this is that the oft assembled stereotype of your nearest and most feared metalhead being crammed with close-minded antimony musical is convincingly substantiated and is done so wickedly explicitly. There's more to most things than histrionic riffage and grotty monotony, one hopes and indubitably Faith No More are far from your typically brainless [INSERT DESIRED SUFFIX HERE] metal band beefy of bicep. In place of shreds of tattered riff is MIDI melodrama; blackened sincerity traded in for jollity. Given Patton's ventures past you may expect a more embracing approach to artistry than that with which Topley-Bird was furnished, although he himself later concedes: "How was she? I missed her." It's as though he too here trades in the avant-garde for idiocy when backed up by his San Fran, California comrades and does himself – or rather his outward image – something of a disservice in the process. At this juncture we'd just like to voice our very own dissent at his relegation to irrelevance: how the fuck can this goon turn his hand to so many varied and moreover challenging genres with such consistent success and put on something so deplorable when in the supposed comfort of his post-Mr. Bungle origins?

Certainly the stage is set for something of utmost splendour to unfurl: drenched in puritanical white as though the local Unitarian Church went and ejaculated all over it and doused in a Harvest Festival's worth of aromatic blossom, the overall aesthetic is of their Sonisphere showing – originally scheduled for 48 hours previous although as with nigh on every festival last weekend that one too was duly rubbed out – squeezed into the 'Academy. The ubiquity of beard too lends the event to an innately secular fanaticism. Like (blood)thirsty dogs, body clocks ring and a-ding rabidly come nine, impatience breeding to the tune of Both Ends Burning. Resembling a Thompson slash Gilliam-styled Depp in ashen panama and crisp suit, Patton lurches out from behind monumental ampage to evoke mass hysteria. For the next fifteen or so he attracts a messianic omnipotence: he'll upraise a middle finger and a thousand others gravitate heavenwards; he'll point out individuals and be greeted with the uncontrolled whooping and waving traditionally earmarked for McCartney et al.; he'll direct us through a divine singalong of Jones' Delilah midway through instrumental opener Woodpecker From Mars, its staunch Welshness wonderfully at odds with its Afro-Asiatic synth manipulations. We continue to rejoice in the palms of his all-giving hands for the foreseeable few moments as a dB-perfect Midlife Crisis is emitted with an invigorating vim although already by Be Aggressive – the mood set by funereal organ tones – devotion begins to diminish. Patton drawls "Aah shit" at its close, and it's precisely that: its Roddy Bottum-led cheerleader schtick detestably '90s, it has aged about as well as its own author and by God does it gall. Similarly he'll shrug almost defeatedly throughout where once he'd surely have slugged, snorted and spat with a concerted defiance.

"We're gonna give y'all some spa treatment. Y'all want some spa treatment?" Patton then proclaims as the protracted vocal harmonies of Spirit resonate around. Something of a nod to present (or at least less remote past), it not only echoes certain aspects of his more contemporary outpour but also the claustrophobic and clichéd pampering propensities of our modern times. Infinitely more therapeutic anyway is their signature cover of the Commodores' Easy which proves as pleasurable on the most lethargic of Sunday mornings as it does on any given Tuesday. It epitomises the band's jovial aspect; their plain and ultimately unpretentious onstage joshing. This, however, is taken inexpressibly and impertinently far once Patton has an unassuming security guard in a stranglehold. Headlocked, humiliation ensues as he is then reluctantly prompted to holler out a chorus much to the demented glee of the umpteen. He'll later have another pop at the same professed "big guy", and it just about sums up the petulant fucker tonight as he continually behaves as he may have been forgiven for back in '81.

His performance (as he would seemingly want it branded) is crude and essentially Faith No More are exposed as now being rather crap: with no new material to even sham band stability and with it any form of progression whatsoever, beyond a few veritably skyscraping choruses amid the inarticulate rap (those of course to Epic, Stripsearch, Ashes To Ashes) it's but a vehicle for a nostalgia that's slowly, surely and gratingly grinding to a whiplashing halt. "Are we still friends?", Patton quizzes sometime around one of a few encores and just as he gets "No Yankee love" from his much-lambasted security stimulus that streaming up from the stalls isn't exactly passionately requited. We Care A Lot? No longer, it'd appear...