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FM, O2 Islington Academy
1 December 2010
difference a few months make. In July, FM played the Islington Academy
on the hottest day of the year, but now they returned to a snowy London
with much of the South-East of England cut off. In the circumstances it
was hardly surprising the venue was this time only around half full for
an excellent three band bill.
South-West London residents Four Wheel Drive opened proceedings
with their brand of youthful, high octane, degenerate rock n roll. Songs
like opener White Lines and Home of Rock n Roll combine the rock n roll
riffery of an AC/DC or Airbourne with Stonesy swagger, with the vocals
of beanpole bassist Jamie Lailey having a Jaggeresque tinge to them.
mounds of curly hair, guitarists Ben Austwick and Paddy Achtelik combine
seamlessly, swapping riffs interspersed with chunky solos and a fair
lashing of slide guitar.
I'm a big
fan of these rising stars, but it was a testing environment for them,
coming on when the queue of early arrivals were still being let in and
having to impress a crowd of fans reared on FM's slicker, polished
They had a
fair few of their own fans, who booed when the early AC/DC influenced
High Roller was announced as having to be the final number. Despite this
musical mismatch, I'm sure it was a valuable experience for a band to
watch in 2011.
middle of the sandwich were Airrace, with a couple of line up
changes since supporting Winger in the spring and guitarist Laurie
Mansworth looking a new man with his bushy beard. It has been a pleasure
to see them so many times in the last 18 months, 25 years after they
split up with potential unfulfilled, but on this occasion they were
totally undermined by sound problems - Laurie's guitar cut out during
opener Caught in the Game, and the keyboards were first inaudible, then
suddenly came through drowning out the sound.
Murrell plugged away gamely as first album classics like Promise to
Call, First One Over the Line and the usual 'epic' closer Brief
Encounter were interspersed with some new songs from their
forthcoming Frontiers Records release.
evidence of Call Me Anytime, You Better Believe it (featuring a riff
reminiscent of Strong Arm of the Law and a crowd singalong) and Enough
of Your Loving, this is likely to take a more straightforward hard rock
direction than the pure AOR of their debut.
After a long
wait but an excellent choice of more obscure melodic rock over the PA,
FM came on stage 9:30. It has been a great 2010 for them with a
splendid reunion album Metropolis, two tours, a Download appearance and
even being playlisted by Radio 2 , and it is noticeable that the band
are tighter than ever as a unit and seem to take a visible delight in
The set list was similar to the summer's gig here, old favourites like
Face to Face, That Girl and Don't Stop accompanied by a sprinkling of
Metropolis numbers, though oddly not new single Bring Back Yesterday.
included the soulful Blood and Gasoline, showing off Jim Kirkpatrick's
ability to solo with taste and feeling, a great version of Hard Day in
Hell, both guitarists and guest sax player Carl Brunsdon trading solos,
and my personal favourite Bad Luck which still should have been a hit
back in 1989.
Overland's singing was as exemplary as ever, but it should not be
ignored he is also a tidy lead guitarist, and indeed the number of twin
lead guitar breaks throughout suggests that Thin Lizzy fans unfamiliar
with FM may be getting déjà vu when they see them as support to Lizzy
FM fans like
myself who have been there from the very beginning were delighted by a
four song encore including three 'Indiscreet' classics - Frozen Heart
(recently in Planet Rock listeners all-time AOR Top 20), the returning
Other Side of Midnight, complete with the trademark synchronised walk
across the stage, and American Girls.
We had also
been promised special guests, and statuesque Romeos Daughter singer
Leigh Matty (and partner of bassist Merv Goldsworthy) joined them for a
total a surprise, 'playing' Stevie Nicks in a cover of Stop Dragging my
Heart Around, which was truly outstanding, with Jim and keyboardist Jem
Davis really capturing that distinctive Heartbreakers groove.
Those of us who braved the weather enjoyed a night to warm the cockles
of your heart, and even better the UK's top melodic rock band are
already preparing material for a new album.
Wildside/ Face to Face/ That Girl/ Don't Stop/ Only the Strong Survive/
Blood and Gasoline/ Hollow/ Metropolis (instrumental)/ Over You/ Hard
Day in Hell/ Burning my Heart Down/ Bad Luck / I Heard it Through the
Encores: Frozen Heart/ Other Side of Midnight/ Stop Draggin my Heart
Around/ American Girls
and photos by
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