It was as if Faith No More packed it in early at Vector Arena. The near sell-out crowd wandered away half an hour earlier than they expected - with many left wondering, what about We Care A Lot?

While Digging the Grave was a manic, air-guitar finale, the encores were fleeting and taken up mostly by the band's rendition of Don't Dream It's Over, which the crowd sang along to with patriotic spirit.

When they came back on for the second encore they continued to play the Crowded House number, while poking a few cheeky jibes at it.

Singer Mike Patton is prone to winding people up, so it's hard to tell if he was kidding or serious. It was probably a bit of both. And this devious humour is what makes the guy such a riveting frontman, but you couldn't help but think he got a bee in his slicked back hair about the crowds, um, passion for this national treasure.

Hey Mike, we were joking, we wanted to hear more Faith No More songs.

Then again, who knows, maybe the venue said lights up rather than the band? But unlikely, considering curfews are usually around 11pm at Vector and in Christchurch two nights earlier, while the band did a different set, they played for two hours which included shouty perenial We Care A Lot.

Anyway, apart from the shortened set, the reunited Californian band - who mix everything from jazz and funk, to cabaret and metal into one tight rock'n'roll onslaught - showed they can still kick arse after more than a decade apart.

Besides Patton, who looked dapper and typically demented and ringmaster-like in an all-red ensemble, the rest of the band are a little greyer and balding these days, but they still play with venom.

Drummer Mike Bordin - still with dreads, although more snowy now - is a soul metal machine, and Patton has a throat from hell as he serenades, raps, roars, yabbers, and croons through microphones, megaphones and walkie talkies.

Nor have they lost the ability to whip your head off as they morph from the mooch and shuffle of songs like Evidence into the chug and lurch of slamming songs The Gentle Art of Making Enemies and From Out of Nowhere, off the band's 1989 break-through album The Real Thing.

And there were a clutch of songs mid way through that are testament to Faith No More's longevity and standing. It's hard to top the mangled metal serenade of Ashes to Ashes and the lovely Midlife Crisis; then there's maniacal late 80s track Surprise! You're Dead!; and, from the same period, rap'n'roll classic Epic.

It's just a shame they didn't stick around for a little longer because, we care a lot.