Judging by the amount of people crammed into The Box on this Saturday night, it should be renamed The Sweat Box! It just goes to show the popularity of veteran UK AOR band FM. Maybe they do not get 4 page spreads in certain magazines anymore but this is the biggest crowd I have seen at The Box to the point that late arrivals had to watch from the side of the stage and the stairs leading up to the band room!
FM were supported by Little Angels vocalist Toby Jepson who was currently on a solo acoustic UK tour but had a gap in his itinerary for FM’s gig. It was almost a double headliner as Toby was allotted a 12 song set, 5 of which were Little Angels songs. The venue was full by the time he hit the stage and he received rapturous applause for his laid back delivery with an ego free between song talk and my highlight was an emotional rendition of the Little Angels number “Young Gods”.
Toby Jepson setlist :-
Big Bad World.
Raising My Own Hell.
Don’t Pray For Me.
I Ain’t Gonna Cry.
Four Letter Word.
Kickin’ Up Dust.
Too Much Too Young.
So on to the headliners who I had not seen a full show from in over 25 years and only a brief half hour set at Download Festival 3 years ago so my expectations were high and faced with a packed room, FM did not disappoint. Kicking off with “Tough Love” off current album Rockville it shows that FM are no nostalgia act and lead vocalist Steve Overland still has a vocal range to die for. The first thing i noticed from the opening song, apart from the main hook sounding a little like “Urgent” by Foreigner was the backing vocals from lead guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick and and bassist Merv Goldsworthy. They were that good it was like listening to 3 lead vocalists, making the songs sound even more intense. Of the 17 song set almost half of them were from their 1985 debut “Indiscreet” and 1989 follow up “Tough It Out” and “I Belong To The Night” from Indiscreet followed “Tough Love”. It’s keyboard heavy rhythms and big chorus make you wonder why FM were never a stadium band. Other highlights were “Closer To Heaven” the 1st big ballad of the night from the Aphrodisiac album.
“Wildside” from their 2010 comeback album Metropolis from their 15 year hiatus is a riff heavy hard rocker and the instrumental title track from that album played this evening features a stunning guitar solo from Jim backed by keyboards from Jem Davis which lead straight into Over You from the same album. The song once again highlighted the 3 way vocal talent with a twin lead guitar solo midway from Steve and Jim. Another showstopping vocal from Steve came in the ballad Frozen Heart from the Indiscreet album and following “That Girl” from the same album and after “Bad Luck” and “Burning My Heart Down” from Tough It Out came “Crosstown Train” and “Story Of My Life”, 2 classics from the Rockville album.
“Crosstown Train” is another guitar heavy, melodic rocker whereas “Story Of My Life” was the complete opposite, being a showstopping ballad with Steve’s most poignant delivery of the night and i saw a few tears shed in the audience throughout the song. The set ended with “Breathe Fire” and a powerful “Other Side Of Midnight” from Indiscreet. A fine way to end a classic set and the cheers were deafening as they took their plaudits. In 2014, FM can be seen at the Giants Of Rock festival at Butlins in Minehead on Feb.8th and on a full tour with Foreigner and Europe in April. I think they will be a hard act to follow judging by this performance!
FM setlist :-
I Belong To The Night.
Closer To Heaven.
All Or Nothing.
Burning My Heart Down.
Story Of My Life.
Other Side Of Midnight.
FM band line up :-
Steve Overland – Lead vocals/guitar.
Merv Goldsworthy – Bass guitar/vocals.
Jim Kirkpatrick – Guitar/vocals.
Pete Jupp – Drums.
Jem Davis – Keyboards.
I award Toby Jepson‘s set 9/10 and FM‘s set 9.5/10.
Special thanks to Rachel/Ian Gilchrist for their Toby Jepson photos and to Simon J Newbury www.simonjnewburyphotography.