Review: FM – Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh, 24th Jan 2016
Reviewer: Peter Scallan
The mighty FM are out on a short jaunt round the UK and this is only the second night of the tour. For any aficionados of melodic rock or AOR these guys need no introduction. The last album in my humble opinion is quite possibly the best album the band have produced full stop. The live appearances last year were also superb, having caught them at HRH AOR. Therefore, I didn’t expect any surprises, but there were a few!
In fact the first of these surprises was at the very start of the set. While the opening song of Digging Up The Dirt provided very little surprise, the fact that Steve Overland, henceforth referred to as The Man, opened the set with no guitar was a major surprise. Last year’s shows saw him put down his guitar for some numbers and strut his stuff and finally accept he is the frontman for the band, but opening the set and strutting his stuff from the outset shows a new level of confidence and ability as The Man at the front. Especially as he looks so comfortable and does a fine job engaging with the audience. I Belong To the Night from Indiscreet quickly followed and sounded as good as ever. The guys then dipped into the Tough It Out album and played Don’t Stop which really rocked the joint. Next was a track from Aphrodisiac in the shape of Closer to Heaven which comes across better live and really allows The Man to show his blues roots and what roots they are with the audience just lapping it up. All or Nothing from the same album followed which brought the pace back up a few notches and bounced along nicely and for me is archetypal 80s melodic rock even though it was released in the 90s! Rapidly becoming a staple part of the live set is Let Love Be the Leader and had the crowd giving it some for the woahs. We come full circle back to the new album for possibly my favourite track on the album in Life Is A Highway. It rocked along with the band really looking like they were still enjoying doing what they do best. They then rolled out Frozen Heart with an intro from Pete Jupp. It sounded superb with The Man once again using those golden tonsils to great effect.
Next was the first track from the Rockville album in the form of Tough Love which sounded pretty tough too. Wildside followed from the comeback album Metropolis in 2010 which made me fall in love all over again with what these guys do. This sounded even tougher and chunkier than the preceding track and Jim Kirkpatrick should take quite a bit of the credit for this bring a blusier, edgier sound to the band live and sounding like not a bad vocalist himself judging by those backing vocals. Another of the surprises came in the shape of Someday from Tough It Out being giving an airing. The Michael Bolton comparison is inevitable for this song as it could have been on any one of the first three Bolton album’s and The Man really does carry the melody quite spectacularly. Continuing with this album is Burning My Heart Down which also sounded like it has got better and tougher with age.
The penultimate song of the set proper, That Girl, always brings back memories of dancing (and I use the word very loosely) like the drunk madman I was at The Venue in Glasgow the first time I ever saw these guys. Fortunately tonight I am older and wiser – well older anyway. The set closed with Bad Luck sounding a little like Bon Jovi. Never the less it was a great closing number for the set. The next surprise was a keyboards and vocals only version of Story of My Life from Rockville. It did sound superb even though The Man looked like he struggled initially with the vocal before finding his feet and turning on the style. The rest of us mere mortals wouldn’t mind struggling like that now and again! The closing track American Girls rocked and rolled along and was an excellent finale for the evening, bringing 90 minutes of bliss to a close.
Normally for this type of live review I might write about 400 words but with these guys I just can’t help myself. As I am on record as saying before, just when you think they couldn’t get any better the band bring out an album like Heroes and Villains. The level of live performance is greatly enhanced with The Man singing and fronting the band which in part I put down to the addition of the superb Jim Kirkpatrick on guitar, who looked and sounded like he was having a ball. Long live the mighty FM!