Concert Reviews

FM / Dare / Stone Broken Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 19, 2016    
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FM / Dare / Stone Broken - Parr Hal, Warrington (UK) - 1 October 2016

Review 1 (by Dave Bott):

FM are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of their landmark debut album 'Indiscreet', by re-recording the songs (along with some bonus extras) for a new release, and tonight's gig was initially advertised as being a showcase for some of those classic songs that many of us grew up with. Dare and British Hard Rock hopefuls Stone Broken were also part of the bill meaning a trip into Warrington was something of a "no brainer".

I had seen Stone Broken two months earlier at a night club in Liverpool. The sound, unfortunately, did the band few favours and made them come across as amateurish, in front of a crowd who were there mainly for a Rock night rather than a gig. Tonight was a different matter and though they were only afforded twenty-five minutes or so to make an impact, they did so and left many in attendance impressed by four youngsters who had managed to fly under their radar. Initially, I thought their harder-edged Theory Of A Deadman/Nickelback style might prove too un-refined for a mainly mature audience, who would normally delight in the caress of keyboards and smooth melodies, but the likes of 'Stay All Night', 'Better' and 'Wait For You' proved to be an ideal start to proceedings.

Dare originate from the same era as FM and I remember seeing both bands on an almost weekly basis at the tail end of the eighties. Many have criticised Darren Wharton during the last twenty years or so (unfairly in my opinion) for never re-creating the sound attained on the legendary 'Out Of The Silence' and its tougher follow-up 'Blood From Stone'. With Vinnie Burns now back on lead guitar and a critically acclaimed new album, 'Sacred Ground', expectations were high in Warrington. For those unfamiliar with recent Dare set-lists, the one this evening was arguably nothing short of a revelation. 'Sea Of Roses' and 'Home' both sounded heavier in the live environment and it was certainly a joy to see Burns standing to Wharton's left as he peeled off riffs and solos with consummate ease. There was a noticeable rise in volume from the crowd following 'Wings Of Fire' and 'We Don't Need A Reason', which clearly indicated how highly those aforementioned early albums are thought of. With five tracks in a row lifted from '...Silence' to finish the set, there was no way the band could fail. 'Abandon', 'Into The Fire', 'King Of Spades', 'Raindance' and 'Return The Heart' have lost none of their resonance and the soundtrack of youth proved to have as much impact in 2016 as it did over twenty-five years ago. In some respects, Wharton has created a rod for his own back. He will never please everyone with his musical style choices, but if he continues to recognise his past in the same way he did tonight, and mixes old with new, Dare will have a place in people's hearts for a long time to come.

FM have been back with us for ten years now (thank you Firefest), releasing albums (and EPs) on a regular basis and touring constantly, as if trying to make up for all those years of inactivity. Steve Overland has been essential to a number of studio projects, The Ladder and Shadowman both being notable, as well as recording high profile albums under his own name, but his real home for many is fronting FM. Pete Jupp (drums) and Merv Goldsworthy (bass) have been there with Overland every step of the FM way, but the "new" boys, Jem Davis (keyboards) and Jim Kirkpatrick (guitar), are now regarded as essential to the band's sound. 'Digging Up The Dirt' acted as something as a warm-up before 'I Belong To The Night' got things going properly for most of the AORsters. 'Life Is A Highway' was another newer song, but it seamlessly blended with the eighties staples. 'Let Love Be The Leader' and the seminal 'Frozen Heart' were accompanied by several hundred backing vocalists (some out of tune) ahead of the anthemic 'All Or Nothing'. 'Someday' and 'Love Lies Dying' don't get a live airing very often but a beat was never missed or a cue mistimed during their note-perfect deliveries. Overland's golden voice has lost none of its shine and the unsung Kirkpatrick and Davis added glorious light to Jupp and Goldsworthy's rhythmic shade. More songs from the recent canon, which included 'Tough Love' and 'Wildside', sat nicely next to old-timers 'Bad Luck', 'Tough It Out', 'That Girl' and 'Burning My Heart Down' and I tried to convince myself that my singing was just as good as Overland's. 'The Story Of My Life' was an emotional Overland tour-de-force and then Davis brought out the keytar for rousing versions of 'Other Side Of Midnight' and 'American Girls'.

I'd be surprised if FM ever include so many 'Indiscreet' and 'Bad Luck' songs in the set again, so for all those in Warrington it was a night to treasure. Tonight was one of those "I was there" events and a reminder that great songs are great songs, no matter how old they are.

Dave Bott

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Review 2 (by  Mark Donnelly):

There are some shows that you know, as an avid fan, you have just got to attend as it's not a matter of will it be good but, just how good will it be? This was one such show and it lived up to all expectations; and I would imagine surpassed those of the approximate twelve hundred fans in attendance.

Stone Broken received the honour of opening for these two AOR legends and, despite their harder-edged sound, went down well with a close to capacity crowd who had made their way to Warrington's Parr Hall. Planet Rock's Paul Anthony introduced the four-piece band from Walsall whom have been making quite a stir with their debut album 'All In Time'. I consider myself a fan albeit that the album sounds like the best one that Nickelback never wrote! Their set was short and punchy and featured six of the best from the aforementioned album. The incredible fact is that the members of Stone Broken had not been born when most of us first saw FM and Dare. They certainly were not intimated by the latter fact and put on a confident performance that was enjoyed by well over a thousand fans that had arrived early to catch them strut their stuff. I am looking forward to seeing them again in a few weeks' time at the Rockingham Festival.

The guys in Dare must have been taken aback by the sensational welcome they received as they hit the stage; although the latter should be hardly surprising as this was virtually a hometown gig from the band from Oldham. The next forty-five minutes just flew by with a simply stunning performance spanning the whole of their twenty-eight year recording career. 'Sea Of Roses' opened proceedings and initially the vocals seemed to echo around the hall but this was soon rectified by the time the band played 'Home' from the fantastic new album 'Sacred Ground'. The haunting 'When Darkness Ends' showed just how tight a band Dare are, despite only playing a few shows live every year (how about a full UK tour in 2017?). Darren Wharton has certainly listened to the fans and the remainder of the set was a veritable feast of fan favourites including two Rockers from the 'Blood From Stone' album – 'Wings Of Fire' and 'We Don't Need A Reason' – where Vinny Burns got to let rip; with Burns back in the band, Dare have once again become a Rock band with Celtic influences and not vice-versa. The last five songs of the all too short set were taken from the classic 'Out Of The Silence' debut. This selection started with the opening two numbers 'Abandon' and 'Into The Fire' where I was instantly transported back to 1988. Wharton joked that 'Raindance' had been written about the great British weather, notably in Oldham! The already palpable atmosphere seemed to reach another level with the poignant tribute to the late, great Phil Lynott with an outstanding rendition of 'King Of Spades'. The set was concluded with the usual 'Return The Heart' and the band left the stage to a noise normally reserved for a headlining act.

FM certainly didn't make it easy on themselves letting two fantastic bands open for them; however, seasoned veterans that they are, they were never going to put on nothing but a top class show. One of the mysteries of the world is why FM never made it bigger, but everyone else's loss is their loyal fan's gain. The band seems to have come to terms with this many years ago and genuinely appear to be elated to be playing these shows to their faithful fans. The feeling is very much mutual. This was the thirteenth time I had seen the mighty FM over the years and each time I swear they get better. Billed as the '30th Anniversary Indiscreet' tour, surprisingly the classic album was not played in full; however, we were treated to six tracks from the debut and a further five from the equally as good sophomore album 'Tough It Out'. FM interspersed a further six songs from their long and illustrious career, highlights included 'All Or Nothing' and the riff-tastic 'Wildside'. From the opening track 'Digging Up Dirt' to the last number 'American Girls' the quality never dropped; 'Frozen Heart' was spine-tinglingly good and one of the most underrated power ballads of all-time. At the bequest of the fans, 'Someday (You'll Come Running)' is now a regular part of the set despite it supposedly taking a lot out of the singer (I say supposedly as you would never notice). Dorian Gray kept a picture in his attic to keep himself from ageing, Steve Overland, therefore, must keep a recording studio in his attic as "The Voice" still shows absolutely no signs of deteriorating. There are some tremendous Rock vocalists, but very few can match the consistent quality of Overland.

Surely this should have been more than a one-off show and the band should have gone on a full UK tour as I am sure that there would have been sold-out venues all around the country. Everyone left with a smile on their face and to debate who were the best band on the night and which band has the greatest debut album. Still too close to call on both counts...

On a foot-note, a few days later my wife and I went to see original Dare keyboard player, Brian Cox, at Sheffield City Hall where he gave a lecture on Cosmology! We are now eagerly awaiting Marc Robert's talk on 'The Meaning of Life' ...

Mark Donnelly

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