This year English rockers FM celebrate the 25th anniversary of their album “Indiscreet”. And what better way to do this is there than doing some live shows during which their debut is played in its entirety? Being a fan of this band since the very beginning, I was determined to witness at least one of these shows even if it meant I had to cross the channel. So that was exactly what I did together with some good friends. Arriving around noon we first took time to visit the crowded city of London and of course do some shopping. But the main reason we were there was of course FM’s gig. After Glasgow and Manchester, tonight’s London show was the last of this short tour.
First up however was the Deborah Bonham Band. Deborah is the sister of the late great John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) and is blessed with a raw bluesy voice full of soul and passion. Barefoot she sang every song with a lot of emotion, just the way I like it. I wasn’t very familiar with her repertoire, but together with her experienced band she brought a short and enjoyable blues rock set that surely tasted for more. Unfortunately most people were hanging at the bar during this performance, which was a shame.
Just like FM, Romeo’s Daughter’s reunion was ignited a few years back at the Firefest festival where they played a magical show. But if you thought their strong performance then was just a one-off, then think again. Kicking off with ‘Trippin’ Out’ from the new album “Rapture”, they were spot on from the first note. Twenty years after their debut, lead singer Leigh Matty still looks stunning, while the remaining male band members have, let’s say, aged with grace.
What matters of course is the musical aspect and I can assure you, Romeo’s Daughter delivered the goods. Their set was tight and filled with great riffs and catchy choruses with on top the smooth, rocking voice of Matty. With four songs the focus was mainly on the new album, which was a brave move considering most people hadn’t heard it yet, but the new songs all gelled perfectly with the old ones and fans of pure AOR certainly had a blast.
There were two downsides to their performance however. First were the seated places, which were an ambiance killer despite Leigh’s efforts to get the audience on their feet. And secondly, the short time given (only 30 minutes) to play their set, which ended with the rocker’ ‘Wild Child’. Still I enjoyed every minute of it and hope to catch a full show by them in the future.
I vividly remember the first time I heard of FM. It must have been early ’87 when Belgian national radio weekly broadcasted a program called ‘De Stalen 10’ with an hour full of hard rock and metal. Between all the Metallicas and Slayers, who were huge at that time, they also aired FM’s ‘Love Lies Dying’ and I’ve been hooked to their music ever since.
Fast forward to 2012 and I’m thrilled to witness this classic debut album front to back alive on stage. Every seat of the magnificent Shepherd’s Bush Empire theatre was filled when the Pink Panther theme intro started the show. Immediately many fans stood on their feet and remained so during the whole set. FM didn’t waste any time and started promptly with ‘That Girl’ followed by ‘Other Side Of Midnight’. Although they followed the US release running order, it didn’t change the fact this was pure nostalgia from start to finish. Everyone was singing along and during the intro of ‘Face To Face’ we were given a leading role by Steve Overland.
They don’t make ballads like ‘Love Lies Dying’ and ‘Frozen Heart’ anymore, two of my favorites tunes in which singer Steve Overland was at his best. Hearing those superb songs again gave me goose bumps and proved that only classics stand the test of time. FM was in top form with the soulful voice of Steve Overland, the tight and perfect rhythm section of Pete Jupp and Merv Goldsworthy and the melodic keyboards of Jem Davies, which is unmistakable to their sound. Even guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick has evolved from the shy, new kid on the block to a strong personality both as a person and musician.
Of course the show didn’t end with the playing of “Indiscreet”. What followed was a best-of with a.o. ‘Tough It Out’, ‘Bad Luck’, ‘Don’t Stop’ and ‘Burning My Heart Down’. It’s always a pleasure to see a band playing with so much joy as FM did, and evidently their enthusiasm was reflected in the warm and heartfelt reactions of the fans. Encore and Rod Stewart cover ‘Hot Legs’ put an end to a memorable show that was well worth the long trip.
FM don’t need a lengthy tour to become a well-oiled band. The high level of musicianship that was displayed again proved the talent and professionalism of every individual. It all sounded natural and perfect to us, while in fact the songs hold more craftsmanship than it appeared. Also some new arrangements and endings betrayed the hard effort FM made to turn this evening into something really special. And tonight it was all that and more.
Currently FM are back in the studio to finish off their new album which will be released later this year. Hopefully that will bring them back to our shores again. In the meantime you can check out their new DVD with live footage from last year on Graspop a.o.
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FM, Romeo's Daughter & Deborah Bonham Band
March 10, 2012
Shepherd's Bush Empire, London