Live Review: Fatboy Slim – We’ve Come A Long Way Together Tour (Liverpool – 12/11/21)


Norman Cook, AKA “Fatboy Slim”. A legend of the late 90’s MTV era, with universal crowd pleasers and head boppers such as “Praise You” and “Weapon Of Choice”. Pioneer of Big Beat music, essentially raising it from the ground up with the “Chemical Brothers” all those years ago in Brighton. That guy that’s been on your workout mix for God knows how long. Anyway, you know who he is. Well, early this year the man himself announced a new UK tour, cue my excitement bursting through the roof and still not coming down until the event. Last Friday the day had finally arrived, as I travelled to Liverpool for what I believed was to be a monumental night. 

Travelling on the trusty Transpenine express once again, with great company and a fair few tinnies we’d picked up for the journey, we exchanged songs we hope would be played, and still failing to imagine what that moment might actually be like. As we walked through the city centre of Liverpool, on our way to find the nearest Wetherspoons watering hole, the adrenaline pumped through our veins, as we almost jumped for joy. The beer flowed and the spirits rose. Now, fairly intoxicated, we made our way to the M&S Bank Arena. This was to be my first ever arena gig, at this point, as we queued up to be let inside, my ears were filled with the tones of my friend listing off the acts he had seen at arenas and just how much I was going to love this. There was no worry of “overhyping” this gig, the man was going to deliver over an hour of his greatest hits, he was going to produce pure, unadulterated euphoria, or so we thought. 

We were in the que for a pint when we heard a gigantic uproar from the crowd, realising the gig had started we decided to ditch the overpriced horse piss and belt it into arena, we wanted a good spot and didn’t want to miss a second. As we pushed our way through to the front (“Sorry, sorry, excuse me, sorry”) there he was in front of our very eyes. On a circular podium in the middle of the arena that slowly span around, was Fatboy Slim. As he rotated around in front of his decks, I couldn’t quite believe how close I was to the legendary DJ, glancing around at the crowd, the hairs on the backs of my arms rose up as I felt a shiver of excitement course through my entire being. 

For the first 30 minutes or so, what can only be described as a generic house mix played, which was not really much of a problem. I had seen this done by many DJ’s before as a crowd teasing technique, slowly hyping the audience up with some subtle drops and the odd lyric or two of his, before crashing through that barrier and sailing through with what everyone is there to see, raucous big beat classics. A technique that never really works for me, but alas, I didn’t mind, my anticipation grew to the perfect boiling point, where any longer it would just have become lukewarm. At this moment, “Eat Sleep Rave Repeat” comes on, confetti flies everywhere, and the strobe lighting goes crazy, as a combination of red and white lazers light up the arena. Finally, the moment we have all been waiting for arrives with a decent song to begin the real gig with, assuming the best is yet to come. 

Readers, it pains me so very much to write this, but the best was not to come. Immediately, the music just went back to this generic house mix with the odd little lyric thrown in and pretty much remained this way for the entire set. You would hear the words “weapon of choice” or “right about now” chucked into the mix, get your hopes up and then ultimately just be let down once more. Towards the very end we had “Right Here Right Now” in pretty much its entirety, which was brilliant. It’s just such a shame that he couldn’t have maintained this throughout. As a musician playing arenas, getting fans to fork out forty five big ones, the least you can do is play the music people have come to see you for. 

Don’t get me wrong, the mix played was very good. If I had been at any busy nightclub with this mix playing, I would be absolutely ecstatic, it would trump every club night I’ve been to and then some. I just expected something more, I expected to hear those powerful, energetic drums in “Ya Mama” that provoke you to neck some sambuca. I expected to hear the dirty acid house synths from “Drop the Hate”. At the very least I wanted to hear the unifying “Praise you” belted out in its best form as some sweaty stranger bumps into me as he drunkenly dances about. 

Something else that surprised me was that, given how long Fatboy Slim has been around for, the majority of the crowd was significantly older than myself. At 20 years old, I was certainly among the youngest there, so it can’t even be the excuse of trying to cater to a younger crowd by playing new mixes. If the tour is named “We’ve come along way together” you come to expect songs from that album for most of the event. That’s just a given. 

I can’t explain in words how much I hate ranting about an artist I have adored so much for so long. So, to lighten the mood, I will say that the visuals were absolutely incredible, and really second to none. As the alcohol started to hit me hard, I found myself staring up at this aesthetic masterpiece, watching Greta Thunberg murge Into Bill Murray, and later on seeing Christopher Walken dance with some skeletons. It encapsulated the tone of Big Beat nature of Fatboy Slim perfectly, although it would have been nice to have proper abrasive tones that should have accompanied it.