FM supported by REBECCA DOWNES  -     The Diamond, Sutton-in-Ashfield 21.04.18

LINDSAY SMITH-BOAM (PHOTO CREDITS: LINDZRS MEDIA PHOTOGRAPHY)

 

There seems to be a bit of a common theme whenever FM are due to play The Diamond; One, it’s going to be sold out; and two, it’s going to be a warm evening.

 

I thought I had arrived early for the 7pm doors opening but the queue of people basking in the warm evening sun enjoying what may be the only day of sunshine this year (it is the UK!) stretched up the side of the road.

 

The wonderful thing about The Diamond is that they are very organised, the queue quickly filed into the club and the cold drinks started flowing. Straight away people headed for the front of the stage to settle in prime position for the nights events. With no barrier the expectant fans shuffled close enough to breath the same air as their heroes.

 

As Rebecca took to the dimly lit stage the Birmingham based singer thanked everyone for coming along and said how happy she was to be part of the evening. Accompanied by 2 guitarists; Steve Birkett her song-writing partner and Tara Simms playing her first show with Downes, the guitars allowed Rebecca’s vocal to take the melody and run with it. No vocal gymnastics, this was soulful, rich, bluesy but clean. A lilt and lift in the smoothness adding in subtlety but suggesting rip roaring power given the opportunity.

 

A set predominantly of her own songs including ‘It’s That Easy’, the jazz feeling blues track ‘Night Train’ and the very beautiful ‘Sailing On A Pool Of Tears’. The latter demonstrating the power she can muster with both the lyrics and the emotional delivery of her vocal leaving the audience transfixed. She built the rapport with ease chatting about FM and her music. A very lovely cover of ‘Another Piece Of My Heart’ had a very appreciative round of applause for the familiar song. Finishing her set with the stripped back title track from her new album ‘Believe’, with its relaxed blues vibe, Rebecca thanked the welcoming crowd.

 

Find out more from Rebecca Downes at:

http://www.rebeccadownes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaDownes/

 

PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA. PLEASE DIRECT ALL MEDIA ENQUIRIES TO INFO@DOWNTHEFRONTMEDIA.COM

The anticipation, which had receded slightly as the audience’s attention had been captured by Downes, once again ignited as the crowd packed tighter together leaving little room to breathe the warm air tinged with the taste of excitement.

 

The familiar intro began as the lights dimmed and ‘The Mighty FM’ took to the stage. The pulsing thud of the drum beats and opening repeated ear worming riff of ‘Black Magic’ from their new album ‘Atomic Generation’ smacked through the PA’s. The crowd joined in immediately with the gang chants opening the song. Looking genuinely surprised and delighted, Steve Overland and the band recreated the track as if it was on a recording but accompanied by a few hundred backing singers. A track full of everything FM do well. We were in for a good night!

 

Continuing with ‘I Belong To The Night’, ‘Life Is A Highway’ and the huge fan favourite, ripe for audience participation with the “whoa whoa’s”, ‘Let Love be The Leader’. With such an extensive back catalogue the set list is always a discussion point between the fans prior to the shows, and although there are favourites, these are many and the band do mix it up every-time they tour. A wonderful addition to the set list and one which had Overland reaching for the water and voicing his concern over whether he was up to the challenge was ‘Someday’, from the album Tough It Out. Admirable – what a delivery both musically from Jim, Merv, Pete, Jem and vocally from Steve. A classic FM song which has never aged.

 

Some banter with the audience and the band seems to love it at The Diamond with many familiar faces in the crowd and smiles were as radiant from the stage as they were from the fans. Another new song ‘Killed By Love’ rocked the house. The new album is riddled with songs which wedge themselves in your brain somewhere between your motor function skills and ability to talk. Steve declaring it fantastic that everyone knew the new song.

 

Demonstrating his guitar prowess Kirkpatrick has an affinity with his guitar which is sometimes overlooked. I always think of him as one of the hardest working musicians in the industry and all that playing certainly pays off as he is exceptional tonight with ‘Metropolis’.  Crisp and clean, light and soaring.

 

A melodic heart beat from Jem Davis’s keys and a soaring solo from Kirkpatrick to rapturous applause lead in to ‘Over You’. Dirty riffs and rumbling bass with the dual guitar attack give such a full sound plus the more subdued lower vocal from Overland gives it a massive sound to the track live. Merv chipping in to the banter making the crowd laugh addressing the fact that it was “fucking hot!”.

 

Slowing things down ever so slightly with the varied riffs and wistful yet soaring vocal of ‘Closer to Heaven’, a beautifully written and constructed song. To have the light melody together with the huge grimy guitar riffs is a considerable achievement and takes it into power ballad territory.

 

A few surprise additions including, ‘Blood & Gasoline’ from 1992’s ‘Aphrodisiac’ with Mr Overland ably assisted by the multi vocal talents of a couple of hundred folks before the vocal somersaults closed the song. ‘All Or Nothing’, with its huge American rock feel was next. Hand clapping and audience participation actively encouraged.

 

A piano intro from Davis joined by Kirkpatrick with a clean and soaring solo before the heart beat bass line kicks in along with the “Whoa Whoa’s” as the pace again slows with the melodic tones of a pure vocal from Overland ringing out for ‘Love Lies Dying’ from ‘Indiscreet’.

 

We are into twin guitar riffs again with the intro for ‘Bad Luck’, another big track full of delicious riffs, catchy hooks and lyrics flawlessly delivered. Leading into probably one of their most iconic and popular songs, ‘Tough It Out’, an AOR classic which has so many good things going for it from catchy lyrics to dirty riffs all held together by a huge bassline. This is one of the FM tracks which I actually prefer live (many a fan will damn me to hell) – it has an energy and power that didn’t come across as well on the album of the same name. Don’t get me wrong, the album is a true classic and each song wonderfully produced but it’s perhaps live guitars, Kirkpatrick does bring an added something to the music live, that bring an edge to it. No rest as we have the familiarity of ‘That Girl’, Overland stopping singing briefly to hear the crowd who took it over from the first word.

 

With the sweat streaming down the faces of the band, shirts stuck to them, wringing wet under the hot lights and haze of smoke, the tunes kept coming. ‘Burning My Heart Down’ packs a punch with Pete Jupp smashing the symbols and laying the beats hard and heavy while the pulsing bass of Merv Goldsworthy throws the groove in under the melody. Another demonstration of a classic AOR track transferring to 2018 effortlessly.

 

A quick breather as the band half retreat from the stage mainly to take on water but we all know what’s coming. Amid cries of “more!” it would not be an FM gig without the one track which shows why Steve Overland is called ‘The Voice’. It’s like a cry from the heart, a lesson in heartbreak. As the band join him on stage, the look of admiration as they too watch him sing as they play is really quite something. Every time I hear this song I get goose bumps, especially live. Is it possible he sings it better now than when it was recorded?

 

How do you follow that? With ‘Does It Feel Like Love’, a very good choice for the closing song of the set. Was it really the last song? How fast did that gig go!

 

I make no secret that I have seen FM perform countless times over the years and there is a reason for that. At every gig the band don’t just go through the motions, the band themselves seem to genuinely enjoy it. It must have been boiling on that stage tonight but they still delivered 100%, smiles evident. Yes, there is always a degree of seriousness and professionalism as they endeavour and succeed to produce perfection, but it’s the camaraderie and respect for each other that shines through.

 

Am I going to criticize anything?  Well yes actually. With the new album out and the tour carrying the same name, I wanted to hear more of the new tracks. Atomic Generation is an album packed with good songs so let’s hear more of them. The band did seem genuinely surprised that so many people already knew the words to sing along to those new tracks included, so have faith, play more of them! But there lies the problem, which others do you drop from the list?

 

Chatting to fans after the gig, the solution was clear to many, keep playing…consensus seemed to be a 3 hour set minimum!! I think we may have been having to provide oxygen and ice baths if that happened.

 

Transferring their full-on sound to the big stage is always great for a band and FM do it with ease, but to see them so close in a smaller venue is always a joy. The guys looked exhausted by the heat but nevertheless it was a quick change and out they came to chat and pose for selfies by the dozen. The smiles not leaving their faces for a moment. FM are one of the friendliest and most approachable bands around.

 

Many more dates are upcoming so check out their website and social media for info and tickets.

 

FM are:

Steve Overland - Vocals and guitar

Jim Kirkpatrick - Lead guitar

Merv Goldsworthy - Bass

Pete Jupp - Drums

Jem Davis - Keyboards

 

Find out more at the following links:

http://www.fmofficial.com/fmofficial/index.html

https://www.facebook.com/FMofficial/

 

PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA. PLEASE DIRECT ALL MEDIA ENQUIRIES TO INFO@DOWNTHEFRONTMEDIA.COM

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