FM / It Bites / Vega Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 12, 2014    
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FM / It Bites / Vega - O2 Academy, Manchester (UK) - 21st March 2013

With a new album on the streets – two, with the equally strong Rockville II – FM are back on the road and relishing their second spell in the spotlight following 2007's reunion.

Vega open up the night and, with their own new album to promote, put on an excellent show. Despite moving from second on the bill to opening, their shortened set still impresses. Nick Workman handles the audience with some style and charisma to back up a faultless vocal performance. Vega's recording lineup is augmented by guitarists Marcus Thurston and Ben Christo, who turn in fine performances, bringing the likes of 'White Knuckle Ride', 'Cry' and 'Hands In The Air' to life. A great start to the night.

It Bites however, just don't maintain the standard. With little interaction or showmanship the connection with the audience is tenuous at best. Despite a competent performance of their favourites, only closer 'Calling All The Heros' brings any energy to the set and they leave as a disappointment.

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Over the last couple of years FM seem to have effortlessly assumed the role of the consummate AOR Band. Last year's 'Indiscreet 25 Live' dates were unashamed nostalgia but with two albums featuring Jim Kirkpatrick under their belts, this is a band with current catalogue strong enough to match their revered past. With the intro to 'Tough Love' piping through the PA, FM stroll onstage in front of a packed house to launch into Rockville's opening number. Steve Overland still has the voice most bands would kill for, whether it's an up tempo rocker or squeezing the emotion out of a soulful ballad. Jim Kirkpatrick has proved to be an inspired choice of guitarist; an accomplished blues and acoustic player in his own right, these qualities blend perfectly with FM's AOR sensibilities. Pete Jupp is surely one of rock's most underrated drummers and his rhythm partnership with Merv Goldsworthy is as tight as any analogy you can think of. But to be honest, FM isn't about outstanding individuals, despite the undoubted talent on show all across the stage it's definitely a case of the whole being much greater than the sum of the parts. It's to their credit that the whole show seems so effortless that you can't help wondering if FM really know just how good they are. But most of all everything is done with a huge smile on their individual and collective faces. This is a band that are relishing every moment and have a genuine delight that an audience will turn out in such numbers to support them, relaxed and enjoying the night as much as the fans.

As for the show itself, it's hard to pick out highlights, 'Crosstown Train' rocks even better live than it does on record, personal favourite 'Bad Luck' simply bounces along enthusiastically, whilst 'Closer To Heaven' can still send a shiver down the spine. A night to simply enjoy, whether on record or live, FM really is a class act.

Ian Parry


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