FM / HAND OF DIMES - The Robin 2, Bilston 26.10.18

LINDSAY SMITH

PHOTO CREDITS: LINDZRS MEDIA PHOTOGRAPHY

An evening of delicious AOR beckoned at The Robin 2, Bilston and having two of the best singers around in Steve Overland and Nev MacDonald on one bill was definitely a huge draw to many.

 

HAND OF DIMES seem to have found a place on the live scene over the last couple of years, entertaining those who remember MacDonald (vocals and guitar) and Neil Garland (keys and harmonica) from Kooga days but they have also been discovered by the new generation - those who appreciate a band with soul, blues-filled AOR complete with harmonica playing and stunning vocal performances.  Their music has all the necessary components needed to ensure your eardrums are treated to some memorable songs.

 

Opening with ‘Looking at You’ and ‘Moonlight Mile’, the band sound tight and it is nice to see Colin Edwards (guitar) back after his absence earlier in the year alongside Mark Maybry (bass) and David Stephenson (drums). ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ sounds incredible, packed with emotion and sublime expression. ‘Guilty’ and ‘Pinstriped Arrogance’ keep the set moving along at a swaggering pace.   

 

Echoes of the past with ‘House of Love’ (Skin) have the room bouncing and the crowd singing along.  Each song sounds flawless, capped off with a particularly stunning performance of ‘Sail On’. MacDonald jokes that the performance is “Powered on Sanatogen” and despite this, raises rapturous cheers from the crowd.  Another fine performance from the guys. With new music on the cards, I can’t wait to hear more.

 

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There is always a tinge of excitement in the air where FM are playing. The band have proved themselves to be one of the best live bands around with ‘The Voice’ - Steve Overland and a band who clearly enjoy performing together, consistently filling venues. A run of five weeks or so around Europe supporting Saxon should have seen any band look like they are ready for some R&R – not FM - they seem to thrive on live performing.  Overland commented that they are now a ‘metal band’ after being embraced by the Saxon fans, stepping into the breach after Y&T pulled out of the tour due to Dave Meniketti’s back problem.   

 

Despite showing a few signs of a heavy cold, Overland’s voice is yet again stunning, an audible demonstration of vocal gymnastics punctuating the songs, from the ‘Whoa Whoas’ to the ‘Yeah Yeahs’, the packed crowd sing along to every word of every song.

 

Opening with ‘Black Magic’ from Atomic Generation, the set list is packed full of gems.  Joking that they are the only band who love the support slot as they only need to do 45 minutes, those 45 minutes turn into a couple of hours as ‘I Belong To The Night’, ‘Bad Luck’, ‘That Girl’, ‘Life Is A Highway’ and ‘Let Love Be The Leader’ all flood the room.

 

One song that always gets me whenever they perform is ‘Someday (You’ll Come Running)’ – Steve’s voice together with the riffs, the key changes, the keyboards, everything about it just hits the spot.  With more wonderful songs emitting from the stage including ‘Wildside’ and ‘Crosstown Train’ (a personal favourite), it’s hard to remember to take photos such is the glorious distraction. Songs from across many of their albums populate the setlist with older tracks sounding as fresh as the newer tracks.  A demonstration of how a live band should sound.

 

Admiration is obvious not just from the audience but from Merv Goldsworthy (bass), Pete Jupp (drums), Jem Davis (keyboards) and Jim Kirkpatrick (guitar) on Overland’s breath-taking and emotional performance of ‘Story Of My Life’.  A necessity at every gig now – I don’t think there could be a gig of theirs in the UK without it, despite having other great ballads in their arsenal. Everyone wants to hear this song.

They have always had the talent and the songs but never had the luck when they should have had it in the early days to give them global success.  Since their reformation and the addition of Jim Kirkpatrick to the line-up, they have gone from strength to strength, gaining recognition across Europe and the States. Their professionalism, outstanding talent and timelessness has me in complete awe and it seems that at least some areas of the rock world are catching on to what we already know.  Plus they are some of the most humble, friendliest and genuine people you could ever meet.

 

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Thank you to The Robin for again hosting such a fabulous evening.  The staff really are helpful and friendly, no rushing people away at the end who want to stay to chat to the bands and respect to the bands who both stayed until the very last fan had had a chat and a selfie.

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