*PHOTOS ARE ONLY TO BE USED WITH THE PRIOR CONSENT OF Lindzrs Media Photography / DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA*
On a particularly hot and humid evening, the mighty FM ably supported by the entertaining Phil James (Didge Digital) were due to hit the stage of a sold-out Diamond, Sutton in Ashfield.
The Diamond is an iconic venue and one of the best live music rock pubs still around. The sound is always great, lighting for us photographers is definitely never great but the locals and bar/venue staff are all very hospitable. An excellent evening’s entertainment was expected and that was certainly what we got!
Didge Digital is the former keyboard player for FM and it has been a very long time since I last saw him. Now in his early 60’s but still performing as if he was half that, he delivered a hugely entertaining set of classic tunes from across many genres, Gary Newman, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Queen – a karaoke fans dream and it went down a storm. Didge can sing and he can certainly play those keys.
As the temperature rose even more, the sold-out pub was straining at the seams and the excitement in the room had built to fever pitch as FM took to the stage.
Steve Overland, vocals /guitar, Merv Goldsworthy, bass, Pete Jupp, drums, Jim Kirkpatrick, guitar and Jem Davis, keys, have a strong following and the intimate venue provided a wonderful opportunity for fans to get up close and personal with the guys.
Opening with ‘Digging up the Dirt’, ‘I Belong to the Night’ and ‘Life is a Highway’ this was clearly going to be a night of one crowd favourite after another, and the response from the room was for 300 people to sing along to every word.
“Dangerous’ was a welcome addition to the set-list and the hits continued. The band did not stop, no breaks, a little banter, including mention of a new album! But straight into each track. Well there was a huge amount to cram in!
‘Let Love be the Leader’, ‘Someday’, ‘Frozen Heart’, ‘All or Nothing’, ‘Love Lies Dying’, ‘Shot in the Dark’ (original Overland/Soussan track made famous by Ozzy) all sounded more than wonderful, even a brief technical hitch with Jim’s guitar was hardly noticed as he and his tech managed to get things up and running just in time for a major riff – the crowd and the band smiling and laughing at the close call, admirably and masterfully rectified.
‘Bad Luck’, ‘Tough it Out’, ‘That Girl’, ‘American Girls’, continued the upbeat feel to the whole evening.
As the band briefly moved off the stage for a well-earned towel down and a drink, the expectation immediately grew for the song everyone there wanted to hear.
‘Story of My Life’ shows Steve’s voice off to its most pure and emotional and 300 people together with the band began the song for him. Every time I hear Steve sing this, I melt into a pile of mush, beautiful words sung by one of the best AOR voices ever.
Re-joined on stage by Didge, the evening closed with ‘Other Side of Midnight’, and it very nearly was!
The cohesiveness of the performance, the seamless transitions into songs, the laughs, banter and smiles, forged perhaps by the number of years they have been together, gives a familiarity and ease to FM’s performance which in turn creates an enjoyable atmosphere for everyone in the room.
Seasoned professionals with immense talent and energy despite a very, very, hot and humid venue, has yet again proved that FM are formidable live. If the opportunity arises for you to catch these guys live, do so. Check out their back catalogue of studio albums, they have been around for a long time and hopefully will stay around for a very long time too.