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FM, Dare, Toby Jepson – Melodic rock masters deliver a slice of AOR heaven in London

Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media 

When FM reunited in 2007 at Firefest in Nottingham, there was only a slim hope that the ‘second time around’ for the band would be anything more than a one off and maybe the odd greatest hits tour. Yet, with only one further change in line up, Jim Kirkpatrick replacing Andy Barnett when Andy was unable to commit to any long term plans in 2009, the band have gone from strength to strength and now record with a frequency we used to only dream of.

For a band that first came to prominence back in 1985 the gap from the late 90s to 2007 does mean that they now find themselves releasing just their 11th album, Atomic Generation but what an immense release it is, check out our review below but if you don’t have it then you’re missing out:

FM- Atomic Generation Review

Before FM and co-headliners Dare arrive on stage we are treated to a short acoustic set from Toby Jepson, he of Wayward Sons and of course Little Angels fame. 

Toby Jepson

Whilst Wayward Sons shows naturally focus on the band’s debut album, on his own Toby is happy to dip into a little of the past and play a great mix of Little Angels numbers as well as the Son’s new songs. Really well sung and stripped back they sounded fantastic but that’s to be expected when the voice on stage is Mr Jepson. Like the rest of us Little Angel’s fans, he may be 20 years older than he was when they were at their peak but like a fine wine his voice has aged remarkably well and the laid back nature of the songs performed proved what a great artist he is. 

This felt like a gig in my living room with just a handful of friends present all of whom knew Toby’s music inside out. I’ll take that any day over a gig with 80,000 present when the best way to watch the band is on a video screen from 75 metres away. 

SETLIST

Ghost (Wayward Sons cover) / Radical Your Lover (Little Angels song) / Small Talk / Don’t Pray for Me (Little Angels song) / I Ain’t Gonna Cry (Little Angels song)

/ Deliver Me (Fastway cover) / Young Gods (Stand Up, Stand Up) (Little Angels song) / Kickin’ Up Dust / Too Much Too Young (Little Angels song) /

Until the End (Wayward Sons cover)

Dare

And so to the first band I ever saw live, back in July 1989. Playing to 50 odd people at the Derby Rockhouse (RIP) Dare had just released Out Of The Silence. Fast forward to 2018 and they celebrate 30 years of that album by releasing Out Of The Silence II , a re-recorded version of the debut that sees the band able to tweak, modernise and deliver the classic album once more to a new audience. 

With Vinny Burns firmly back in the fold these days, the band look and sound like they were always supposed to. When the band are fired up, Vinny’s guitar work combined with the velvety smooth voice of Darren Wharton makes Dare unbeatable . There’s not a single bad song in the set, the lighting is immense and some of the best I’ve ever seen the band perform under and the band are tight (as a tiger) with smiles across the board that make the experience everything it should be for the crowd.

As you’ll see from the setlist, a couple of tracks from Blood From Stone make and appearance. It’s been an age old issue for Darren, the tracks don’t really reflect modern day Dare, coming across more in the hard rock Bon Jovi vein (but better!) yet the fans, me included, long to hear those songs performed live. We Don’t Need a Reason gets a huge cheer when announced but Darren has been clever with the delivery and some of the moments that would have stretched him 30 years ago are reworked to suit his voice as it is these days. A smart move and one that might see the song remain in the set for the future. 

If you want to see a band deliver quality AOR \ Melodic Rock, then this is how it’s done. Classy, clean, perfect rock music for music lovers. Check out the photos below. If that doesn’t suggest a band enjoying their time on stage as much as the crowd did then I don’t know what does. Long may Dare continue. 

Set List:

Sea Of Roses / Home / Until / I’ll Hear You Pray / Days Of Summer / Everytime We Say Goodbye / Emerald (Thin Lizzy Cover) / 

Wings of Fire / We Don’t Need A Reason / Abandon / Into The Fire / The Raindance / 

King Of Spades (Included a portion of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Black Rose’) / Return The Heart

FM

And so to the band closing this excellent three act show. FM were the third band I saw live, also back in 1989 at the Birmingham Irish Centre (also RIP) so to get them and Dare together is a huge win for me. 

Opening with the first track from the new album, Black Magic shows that FM have lost none of their songwriting prowess and if anything, 30 plus years on from the debut, they seem to be more relevant, more committed and definitely writing the best music of their life. Fans will probably be firing abuse for suggesting it but the new album in my opinion is the best thing the band has done to date and that includes their revered, placed on a pedestal debut, Indiscreet. 

Surprise additions to the set seem to be all the rage and after the inclusion of the two tracks in Dare’s set to keep the fans happy, FM followed suit and, what seemed a slightly reluctant but accepting that the fans wanted it comment from Steve before they started, the band delivered an amazing version of Someday (You’ll Come Running) which I’d certainly requested from him in a recent interview for the site. It went down a storm , kept the fans happy me included and hopefully it will appear again in the future. 

Proof that a band are on form comes with the fact that the setlist contains such a blend of songs from both eras of FM. The past is respected with tracks from the first three albums making an appearance but they are blended amongst the newer material and everything stands on it’s own as bona fide classics in their own right. FM simply don’t know how to write a bad song and their recent output only strengthens that viewpoint.  

I could watch FM perform live hour after hour. They have enough material for a different set every night for a week or more, easily. And what a week that could be. 

Set List:

Black Magic / I Belong to the Night / Life Is a Highway / Let Love Be the Leader / Someday (You’ll Come Running) / The Dream That Died / Other Side of Midnight / Metropolis / Over You / Closer to Heaven / Does It Feel Like Love / Story of My Life / Tough It Out / Bad Luck / That Girl / Killed by Love
Encore:
Burning My Heart Down / The Boys Are Back in Town (Thin Lizzy cover – with Darren Wharton)

 

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