Review & Photography by Lindsay Smith for MPM
As the sunshine shone in Swansea, two fabulous live bands prepared to keep the temperature up into the evening.
This rescheduled show has been anticipated for so long, the Patti was busy from the off.
GRAND SLAM kick-started the evening with ‘Gone Are The Days’ as Laurence Archer, the only original member of the band that were the last project for the mighty Phil Lynott, turned up the riffs to eleven.
Swiftly ploughing into ‘Nineteen’ Mike Dyer on vocals is expressive and powerful in his delivery, while the engine room of Rocky Newton on bass and Benji Reid on drums kept the tempo and kept it loud.
On double duties tonight on keys was the talented Jem Davies who added so much to the each song.
With deft and nimble dexterity, Laurence makes the solos look effortless, head down, baseball cap pulled low, concentrating on his playing, the guy is a genius and always a pleasure to hear.
Playing songs from their album ‘Hit The Ground’ together with older material, this was a band who looked to be enjoying the wonderful Swansea crowd, who in turn, showed they have an appreciation for good music full of massive riffs, effortless hooks and choruses that had so many of them singing along throughout the set.
The last two songs leave the audience full of memories of Lynott, his influence clear to hear and sadly missed , with “Military Man’ and until the very last with ‘Sisters Of Mercy’. The band fit well with FM, this is our sort of music!
As the cheers rang up to the rafters of the Patti, FM take to the Swansea stage for the first time in their career.
This tour is in support of their suitably titled new album “Thirteen” their, believe it or not thirteenth album…
The setlist for FM gigs always delights their fans as they switch it up with songs from across their expansive catalogue, from classic tracks to those sparkly, shiny, brand new ones, each fitting easily into the next, the year of its creation irrelevant and all timeless.
Opening with ‘Synchronised’, straight in to ‘Bad Luck’ then ‘Life is a Highway’ , Steve’s vocals are sublime, an ageless voice singing ageless melodic rock songs.
One of those shiny new songs ‘Waiting on Love’ is pure melodic rock, sounding even better live, than on the album. “Crosstown Train’ from “Rockville” makes a welcome re-appearance on the set with Jim cracking open his exceptional box of riff styles with some bluesy, soaring ones.
Before another track from ‘Thirteen’ makes its live debut “Long Road Home’ showcases Steve’s voice so well.
A very catchy track from their third album ’ Taking It To The Streets’, ‘Crack Alley’ was definitely one that deserved to be dusted off and played loudly and really did sound splendidly fresh.
‘Killed By Love’ explodes with ‘Yeah, Yeah ,Yeah’s” and lovely duel guitar riffs now synonymous with FM, take the levels of singing from the audience up to the stratosphere.
Winding back the years even further we were treated to “Frozen Heart’ and then another fabulous set returning track “Dangerous’. The whole night is a journey through the years, memories being awakened by the songs and the timeless vocals.
The next songs are some of the finest of their career to date and when the familiar opening sounds of ‘That Girl’, ‘Tough it Out’, ‘I Belong To The Night’ flood off the stage the Swansea crowd sing their hearts out.
Jim Kirkpatrick Is one of, if not the finest guitar player around and he effortlessly runs through ‘Metropolis’ before the band rip into ‘Over You’. I love this song, in my opinion one of their finest with catchy hooks, lyrics and stunning arrangements, a lesson in melodic rock song writing to anyone.
“Turn This Car Around’ continues with the song writing prowess as even this new song is in that perfect format, keeping it modern but true to us in the church of AOR.
As Jem begins the encore with the opening bars of “Story Of My Life’ that incredible vocal of Steve Overland which has earned him the moniker of ‘The Voice’ floods the room. How he delivers this to absolute perfection after such a full on set tonight is beyond me!
This is probably the finest ballad FM have written, stunning in its lyrics and the emotions it evokes. The crowd erupts, there isn’t a better word to use than amazing…
One thing I love about watching FM play is the comradery and fun the guys have on stage. It must be such hard work but they look like they enjoy every single minute and as the band begin their regular closing out song, “Other Side of Midnight’, Jem coming out from the back corner of the stage into the spotlight with his now synonymous Keytar, the smiles on stage widen as do those in the crowd.
You can’t help but sway in time to the upbeat tempo, a lovely and tuneful way to end the evening.
Not sure how a band that have been around so long (apart from the 12 or so years break!) keep coming up with the goods on stage but I don’t think there are many if any other bands around who are so consistent and professional.
It’s fabulous to see the guys back on tour, oh how we have missed them and speaking to the band afterwards, how they had missed us.