“We should do this more often”. FM’s Steve Overland had said in their set. “Seeing the reaction of you good people does my heart good” says Danny Vaughn in Tyketto’s.
They are both right.
The fact is that bills like this – three bands of roughly comparable sound and standing, rotating, each getting an hour, no encore, and it seems no ego are rare – but given the attendance here and apparently everywhere else for that matter, fans are voting with their feet and packing the venues.
First up tonight (they headline in the next couple of nights in Manchester) are Dare. Darren Wharton’s mob re-announced themselves a year or so back with their best record in decades “Return To Eden” and they play a smattering from it. “Born In The Storm” and “Cradle To Grave” had opened things, the title track underlines its class, but there’s a couple of seriously big tunes they almost have to play. “Abandon” and “We Don’t Need A Reason” done back to back are seriously good too (“we used to get played on Radio One by Steve Wright” smiles Wharton) but perhaps the best of the lot, strangely, is “King Of Spades”, dedicated to Phillip Lynott and including a big old snippet of “Black Rose” for good measure (a young Wharton was in a later incarnation of Thin Lizzy) it is a fine indicator of a band that might go under the radar a little, but one which seems totally reinvigorated recently.
There’s always that moment in FM sets. That moment when they play “That Girl”, “Bad Luck” and “Tough It Out” (often as a kind of hat-trick, back to back like tonight) and you’re overcome by a mixture of joy and anger. The former because they are sensational, the latter because – and I know I write this in every review I’ve ever done of the band – there’s that nagging thought that if this was Bon Jovi they’d be in stadiums with the same songs.
Quite simply, FM are the best there is at what they do. They are a brilliant band, a skilled band, and they have songs that are as good as it gets. “Synchronised” and “I Belong To The Night”, like the three we’ve already talked about are in most of their longer sets, but they always run online polls to give fans the chance to hear things they haven’t for a while and “Someday (You’ll Come Running)” (“it’s a killer for me to sing, so you’d best enjoy it!” jokes Steve Overland) and “Tattoo Needle” are the offerings this time around and both keep things fresh.
As does the one song they play from last years “Thirteen”, “Turn This Car Around” has become something of a staple already and it belongs in the excellent company it keeps.
FM, then, just doing what they do and being exceptional.
Around halfway through Tyketto’s closing set they play “Strength In Numbers” and Danny Vaughn jumps up and down, spontaneously it seems from my vantage point. That means he literally jumps for joy, and as a metaphor for their show, there’s none better, frankly.
They might begin with the title cut of “Reach”, which criminally is the most recent album they’ve put out (despite being seven years old) but the rest is (nearly) all from those two classic records they put out in the early 90s.
“Wings” and the rest – notably the wonderfully sleazy “Lay Your Body Down” from “Don’t Come Easy” have aged incredibly well, and the ones from the second record, like “Rescue Me” and “The Last Sunset” (“its our cowboy one, JBJ did it, so we all did it….” Laughs Vaughn likewise.
A good proportion of this is down to Vaughn’s voice, which actually sounds as good as ever, and the band, including Thunder’s Chris Childs, and new guitarist Harry Scott Elliot – who is brilliant throughout.
There’s one cover, Waysted’s “Heaven Tonight”, fitting as their drummer Johnny Dee is reunited with Vaughn for this trek and it was always going to finish with “Forever Young” and it might be a little on the nose to say that this music has a timeless quality to make it seem that way, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
A night when anyone there would have felt amongst friends, a night of celebration. Both for these wonderful bands, but also for having the courage to do this.
So, yes, lets do this more often, shall we?
ALL PHOTOS KEITH TRACY