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Olympia Theatre,
May 3rd 1999

Faithless is a strange phenomenon. While at their best (and most commercially successful) writing dance tunes, they then slip into mellow, gospelly mode, at times sounding like a more upbeat Massive Attack than the creator of club classics. The difference is, where Massive Attack have stayed loyal to the underground Bristol sound, Faithless have tapped into the sweaty and quasi-religious house scene. When you think about it, what actually is a Faithless fan? I know I've never met one. This isn't an insult to the group, but perhaps it results from their reluctance to adhere to a particular musical genre.

Anyway, it didn't seem to matter. A curious mix of 16-year-old beer-guzzlers and balding moody types filled the Olympia, grooving to the tunes of the warm-up DJ. Faithless came to the stage in a nuclear-like green glow with DJ Maxi Jazz at its core, complete with big grin and creepy old man's jacket. As the gig proceeded, his clothes became increasingly sparse, so that all that remained was a wiry chest and a pair of braces holding up his kaks.

While they teased us with their chilled-out tunes, including the new single 'Bring my Family Back', the crowd, though appreciative of what were genuinely good songs, were constantly anticipating the kicking in of the dance bit.

And then it came. Sister Bliss and her keyboard suddenly took centre stage with Mr Jazz providing an amusing Duracell bouncing bunny backdrop. 'Take the Long Road Home' was followed by the climactic and hugely anticipated 'Insomnia'. Hundreds of arms pierced the view of the stage, pints of beer went arseways, but the pubescent faction didn't care. But for me, it was 'Salvia Mia' from Reverence that marked the night in my head. Maxi Jazz was now literally in his skin and screaming. The set finished with last year's 'God Is A DJ' ("though this isn't much of a church").

In some ways the perfect group, Faithless are unlike anything else out there - that I've heard of anyway. Catch them while they're still hot.

by Anne-Louise Foley