It’s just this side of 11pm, as it were, when FM is finishing up “The Other Side Of Midnight,” and they’ve delivered another masterclass in how this should be done. They are – probably – the band I’ve seen most in the last decade since they toured with Thin Lizzy, and in that time, I’ve never seen them put on a bad show.
That’s a fact that Sons Of Liberty’s Russ Grimmett acknowledges himself in their set: “You’ve probably seen FM before,” he muses.
When he’d asked a similar question earlier in the set, “Who has seen us before?” There had been a less loud response, but with songs in their set like the new single “Time To Fly,” that changes before the end.
It’s not that the Bristol mob are doing anything earth-shattering new; in fact, it is precisely because they are so authentic that they’re excellent. They have the air of blokes who, were they not on the stage, would be watching the gig with us.
But the fact is that they’ve got songs like “Light The Fuse,” equal parts bass groove and cowbell, the harmonica-driven “Up Shit Creek,” or the ludicrous fun of “Beef Jerky Boogie.” And they are as good a southern-tinged outfit as anyone.
And for all the jokes and the knockabout stuff, when they play their songs, they are bang on it. “Ruby Starr” has as classic a groove as could be, and it underlines just how good a band Sons Of Liberty are.
In the end, it all comes down to this: “Will you welcome the mighty FM.”
And it’s about this time that all journalistic integrity disappears because FM (and I welcome no debate on this subject) are the best at what they do.
“Tough It Out” often starts their shows, and Steve Overland (not for nothing is he known simply as “The Voice”) often dons his guitar for “Synchronised” and a singalong “Killed By Love,” but as he says himself, “We’re gonna play some stuff we haven’t done for years.”
He’s not wrong. “Let Love Be The Leader” might be a staple (and a highlight too, with its Thin Lizzy-esque guitar), but the Whitesnake-ish “The Dream That Died,” the crowd favorite “Face To Face,” and the Free-ish “Blood And Gasoline” have all been dusted off.
There’s a poignant moment when they play “American Girls” – which Overland doesn’t want to sing but does given he wrote it with his brother Chris, who recently passed away. Jem Davis’ keys give it a proper Van Halen feel too.
And just in case you thought they’d forgotten, they still have “That Girl,” “Bad Luck,” and “I Belong To The Night” in their back pockets.
Cleverly though, they bring it right up your date, with “Turn This Car Around,” a track you maybe could overlook on the album, but live, with its nods to Elvis and Quo, it’s a different thing altogether.
“Story Of My Life” is the first half of the encore, but it is there to showcase an incredible voice and a genuinely magnificent band.
That’s where we started too, except to say this: some bands get adulation, fame, and all that goes with it, and you aren’t sure why, then there’s FM.
If ever there was a band that deserved more, then they’re right here. They are the most consistent band there is. Even by their standards, though, they were excellent here.