Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
10th May 2015
Liz Medhurst: Photos by Dave Craig
It was Melodic Rock heaven tonight in Shepherd's Bush with a flawless performance by FM, who keep delivering more and more of the good stuff and continue their ascendancy that was re-booted with the 2007 reunion.
This was the final date on the headline UK 'Heroes And Villains' tour and the live show is just as engaging as the album with a setlist that encompassed their entire career.
With European shows and festivals to come, there are plenty of chances to see FM on the road, and you will not be disappointed.
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Support for tonight started with Belfast rockers No Hot Ashes, who started to build the energy with an appealing set. They were followed by special guests Romeos Daughter, continuing their long association with FM.
Leigh Matty's voice is rich and strong and out of the newer songs in the set 'Touch' was a real highlight, blending well with fan favourites.
We had been suitably and skilfully warmed up by the time FM came on stage and everyone was on their feet right from the start with the single 'Digging In The Dirt' from the new album. It's punchy and rocky and everything good, segueing perfectly into 'I Belong To The Night', an anthem that you can't help but belt along to, air punches pretty much compulsory.
From here the hard groove of 'Wildside' provoked an immense reaction from the crowd and these first three tracks were enough on their own to mark the gig as worthwhile and there was plenty more to come.
We had a bit of a slow down for 'Closer To Heaven' and then back to great riffs with 'Let Love Be The Leader'. Tonight was just quality track after quality track, the setlist bookending early and current period FM continued with the likes of 'The Shape I'm In', 'Blood And Gasoline', 'Tough It Out' and 'Life Is A Highway'. Riches indeed.
'Frozen Heart' was another slow interlude which was a good moment for a trip to the bar before the groove returned with 'Crosstown Train'. It was clear that the band were enjoying every minute, as was I.
It was a relentless run of even more crowd favourites to finish the main set, which closed perfectly with 'Bad Love' before a complete change of pace with the encore which kicked off with a beautiful predominantly solo voice and piano 'Story Of My Life'. Steve Overland had been in top vocal form all night and this was a real chance to shine.
And it couldn't have been more perfect when with the last song, 'The Other Side Of Midnight', Jem Davis left his keyboard rig and joined Merv, Jim and Steve at the front... with a keytar. Mock all you like, I don't care, I bloody love keytars.
FM are the masters of this genre and are always consistently brilliant. I have been thinning out my possessions over the last few months, including CDs, and having just done a count; my remaining collection contains more FM than Journey, Europe and Def Leppard combined. It's the right choice.
Digging Up The Dirt
I Belong To The Night
Closer To Heaven
Let Love Be The Leader
The Shape I'm In
Blood And Gasoline
Life Is A Highway
Tough It Out
Burning My Heart Down
The Story Of My Life
The Other Side Of Midnight
June 20 – Rock The Ring, Switzerland
June 21 – Graspop, Belgium
July 12 – Bospop, Netherlands
July 25 – Ramblin Man Fair, Maidstone, UK
July 26 – Steelhouse Festival, Wales, UK
July 31 – Skoksröjet, Sweden
Aug 1 – Helgeåfestivalen, Sweden
Click here for Mark Taylor's exclusive video interview with FM about 'Heroes And Villains'.