FM / Romeo's Daughter Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 28, 2012    
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FM / Romeo's Daughter - Academy 2, Manchester (UK) - 9th March 2012

Having seen many poorly attended shows in Manchester in the last year, it was heart-warming to see two purveyors of our favourite outdated and irrelevant genre being upgraded from the 600 capacity Academy 3 to its 1000 capacity big brother. Add in a very large number of good friends, a few Fireworks/Firefest staff and a cheap hotel with a 24-hour bar (where Girlschool were also staying!), and you have the perfect recipe for a grand night out.

Romeo's Daughter are plugging their fantastic new album, 'Rapture', so it’s testament to the quality of the new songs that ‘Trippin’ Out’, ‘Bittersweet’, ‘Lightning’ and ‘Keep Walking’ didn't sound out of place among the classics from the first album. Leigh Matty was in great voice and the band were all smiles as the crowd sang along loudly to every word of ‘Velvet Tongue’ and ‘Attracted To The Animal’, whilst the fanatical response to the anthems ‘I Cry Myself To Sleep’ and ‘Wild Child’ must have given the headliners an inkling of the euphoria that would greet their performance of the entire 'Indiscreet' album twenty-five years after its release.

It may not be the most comfortable of venues to see a band in, but I've rarely seen a bad show in the Academy's middle room, mainly due to the acoustics being pretty good for a plain rectangular room and the crowd always being noisy and appreciative. Tonight was no exception, as the opening magical chords and keyboard bleeps of 'That Girl' elicited a swell of emotion that didn't subside all night. The songs from F.M's early days all have choruses you can chant along to, which is exactly what happened with 'Indiscreet' numbers 'I Belong To The Night', 'The Other Side Of Midnight', 'Face To Face' and especially 'American Girls' (haven't heard that one for a while!), all with 1000 note-perfect backing vocalists... well, apart from Dargan in my left ear, and possibly me! Steve Overland has to be one of the best vocalists the UK has ever produced, and whilst many singers from the 80s are struggling to get near the original notes in concert, Steve just makes it look effortless. Jim Kirkpatrick has grown into the role of lead guitarist and is a perfect fit, whilst bassist Merv Goldsworthy and keyboard player Jem Davis play their parts coolly and with huge grins. For his part, this is probably the hardest I've ever heard Pete Jupp hit the drums, giving the songs a punchier edge and elevating the slightly lesser great songs like 'Hot Wired'. In the more laid-back moments, 'Love Lies Dying' and 'Frozen Heart' ("The one that started it all for us") are just as sublime as the first time you heard them, whilst another nice touch was the arrival of original keyboard player Didge Digital (sporting a bald head and flashing green spectacles) for the end of the 'Indiscreet' section on 'Heart Of the Matter' - possibly the first time I've ever seen two keytars on the same stage.

The old stage favourite 'Dangerous' was a welcome surprise, as was the chant-along non-album single 'Let Love Be Your Leader', the perfect early F.M. set being brought to a close by a series of upbeat highlights from the 'Tough It Out' album, namely the title track, 'Don't Stop', 'Does It Feel Like Love', 'Bad Luck' and 'Burning My Heart Down'. The sole encore and last track of the night has traditionally become a cover tune, but thankfully this time they passed on 'Heard It Through The Grapevine' and 'Purple Rain' in favour of another that they played regularly back in the day, a storming version of Rod Stewart's 'Hot Legs'. F.M. have always been a great live band, but this show may well have been the best I've ever seen, which considering how many times I've seen them in the past is no mean feat. Roll on the 'Tough It Out' 25th Anniversary tour!

Phil Ashcroft

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