FM / Dare Hot

Written by Central Electronic Brain     February 20, 2019    
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FM / Dare - Guild Hall, Preston (UK) - 08 February 2019

FM and Dare have become regular touring partners over the last few years, and you would actually be hard-pushed to find two bands that go so well together. This was my first visit to Preston's Guild Hall, and this show was in what seemed to be the foyer of the main theatre, the ceiling of which is very low which meant viewing was somewhat limited, plus it was absolutely bloody freezing in there for the duration of the whole show, yet the sound quality was very, very good. And brilliantly, it was a sell-out.

You know exactly what you're going to get from a Darren Wharton and Dare show these days – there's nobody else around who sound like Dare. After several years of touring without a bass player it's great to see Nigel Clutterbuck is now a permanent fixture once again as the sound is much more fuller with him, and the bassist seemed to be having the time of his life on stage. It was obvious some of the guitar textures were on tape, but they're absolutely essential to the Dare sound, and give Vinny Burns more opportunity to peel off some quite beautifully melodic licks – he truly is an outstanding guitarist, and it was also great to see him singing so much. And as for Mr Wharton himself, I've never heard him sound so good, the great sound quality helping his voice to truly soar.

It was very much a set of two-halves; brilliantly, the 'Sacred Ground' album was plundered heavily to begin, with 'Home', 'I'll Hear You Pray', 'Days Of Summer' and the ballad 'Every Time We Say Goodbye' all given an airing, before reaching back slightly to the 'Beneath The Shining Water' album for the always impressive 'Sea Of Roses'. I do have to admit to being a little disappointed that the 'Belief' and 'Calm Before The Storm' albums are completely overlooked for material these days, as I think songs like 'Silent Thunder' and 'Walk On The Water' would slip very well into the set.

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The second half was completely predictable, but absolutely phenomenal. First came the 'Blood From Stone' numbers, the somewhat heavier 'Wings Of Fire' and 'We Don't Need A Reason', the latter of which admittedly Darren struggles to sing now, but he cleverly cajoled the partisan crowd to assist him. Then the debut 'Out Of The Silence' was visited for 'Abandon', 'Into The Fire', the stunning 'Raindance', Darren's tribute to "my old boss" Phil Lynott in 'King Of Spades' (with the rousing 'Black Rose' segment resurrected into its finale), and finally the wonderful 'Return The Heart'. With a new studio album seemingly imminent, hopefully Dare will be able to do a number of headlining shows with a much longer set very soon.

FM have been known to draw criticism for their sets being somewhat predictable; absolutely not so during this show. They always start with the opening track from their latest album, so it was no surprise when they hit the stage with 'Black Magic' from 'Atomic Generation', which was followed by the oldie 'I Belong To The Night', but then came two of their big-hitters in the shape of the awesome 'Bad Luck' and 'That Girl', songs normally reserved for later on in the set. Then they came more up to date with 'Life Is A Highway', before the always magnificent Steve Overland took a breather to reveal that that the band were in the midst of recording a new album but needed to get out on the road to clear the cobwebs, and had really decided to mix the set up.

Then followed a quite amazing barrage of songs, new and old, with no break in between, that really dug deep into their, let's be honest, wealthy back catalogue. It started with the gorgeous ballad 'Closer To Heaven', but then completely rocked things up with 'Let Love Be The Leader', the always impressive 'Someday (You'll Come Running)', 'All Or Nothing', the instrumental 'Metropolis' that segued into 'Over You' (during which the vocal harmonies from guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick and bassist Merv Goldsworthy were quite outstanding), 'Does It Feel Like Love', 'Crosstown Train' and 'Tough It Out', before bringing things bang up to date to close the set with 'Killed By Love'; a quite unexpected but completely wonderful run of songs, and the crowd were having the time of their lives, especially the old-boy at the back whose dance moves were a combination of John Travolta, Darcey Bussell and Bob Catley – you had to see him to believe it.

Steve Overland and keyboardist Jem Davis returned for the stripped-down rendition of my personal favourite 'Story Of My Life', which was unfortunately spoilt by the selfish arseholes who insisted on talking loudly all the way through it – I applaud people getting out and supporting Live music, but just don't understand why you would pay to go to a Rock show but not actually listen to the band you've gone to see! Then 'The Other Side Of Midnight' brought the show to a close, and though I could bemoan the fact there was no room for more of my favourites like 'Frozen Heart', 'Blood And Gasoline' or even 'Tough Love', this was the best FM show I have ever witnessed.

Ant Heeks

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