There are some things that are so dependable in life. One of those is a slick, singalong FM set led by the liquid velvety tones of Mr Steve Overland, who, like Mr Rodgers, is as good now as he has always been. Their 2007 reformation was not so much a ‘we’re putting the band back together’ moment but a rejuvenation, and a series of polished and accomplished releases followed and continue to do so. This particular evening, filling the Special Guests slot on the Melodic Mammoths Triple Bill at KK’s Steel Mill, they offered the most impeccable warm-up for Tyketto.
KK’s Steel Mill – 19 May 2023
Words: Sophie James
Photography: John Inglis
Kicking off with Synchronized, the crowd were only too eager to clap along when the opportunity first arose. As with Tyketto, a mid-paced number allowed the sound to not only bed in but Steve and the band to suitably warm up. Even after 15 years in the band, Jim Kirkpatrick is still the new boy, a lovely opportunity for him to stretch his fingers here.
It would not be an FM concert unless I Belong To The Night was the second number. The number that sold FM to me back in the day. Those ‘mock horror’ keyboards preceded Steve’s now loosening larynx, and I, for one, couldn’t wait for the chorus in order to join in.
“Let’s hear you singing,” and straight into a salvo of “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs!!” at the commencement of Killed By Love. It has to be a great feeling to have an audience singing straight at you before you even begin.
Three songs in and the best harmonies of the night so far, but this is FM, after all. Jim and Merv Goldsworthy joined the lone striker up front in the 3-pronged attack.
“See if you can remember this one. For me, it’s a killer.” Is there a more instantly grasping hook than Someday (You’ll Come Running)? Regardless of any apprehension, the delivery was flawless. I wish I could have sung along, but no chance of me getting up there.
“Let’s see you singing.” Again, FM has the crowd singing the intro with the Woooaah-oh-oh-ohhhhhs of Let Love Be The Leader. Getting their own brief solo spot later, they lifted the roof off. Another perfectly crafted slice of harmonious melodic rock.
It was wonderful to see some good-natured back-to-back jousting between Jim and Merv during the guitar harmonies of the end section. It shows just how much of a ball they were having.
The classics keep on coming. That harmony bar was raised yet again on the even more splendiferous power ballad Every Time I Think Of You. At this point in the set, the vocals were so clear and bright in the mix. Why wasn’t this featured in an ’80s movie and become a US No. 1 as a result?
In terms of their career, their ‘mid-period’ saw them slip from the spotlight. They continued to put out some quality releases such as Takin’ It To The Street, Aphrodisiac and, one of my own favourites, 1995’s Dead Man Shoes, before their disbandment soon after. The latter included Tattoo Needle, with Steve confirming it was on that tour that this was last aired. Given this evening’s subtle emphases, more so than on the recorded version, I can visualise a country rock band covering this. “I look to the horizon, and the sun goes down alone. We got one last night together ‘cos tomorrow I’ll be gone.”
Onwards to a trio of titans commencing with That Girl. Such a teasing track. One can enjoy the galloping rhythm as it leaves the starting gate, soak up those sumptuous verse vocals, or just be impatient for that magnificent chorus. Be greedy. Enjoy all three.
“You know this one.” I may be wrong, but I would hazard a guess that I am not alone in stating that Bad Luck is one’s personal FM favourite. It came as it did on their sophomore album, which saw a huge step up in production courtesy of Grammy-winning producer Neil Kernon and a collaboration with legendary songsmith and hitmaker Desmond Child. Why this single, or in fact, the album wasn’t a massive smash, remains beyond me to this very day.
Introduced by that unmistakable guitar harmony before it settles into a rhythm representative of the aforementioned composer’s work with a small New Jersey outfit. Regardless of the limitations of your own pipes, you are screaming this one loud and proud. One of the many highlights of the set.
Keeping that momentum going, said title track Tough It Out followed.
The crowd came in on a dime with the “Woooaah-oh-oh-oh-ohhhhhs”. Almost as if they’d been rehearsing. I wonder just how many sang along to the backing vocal of “…you gotta be tough”?
It was the newest song Turn This Car Around that brought this hugely enjoyable, uplifting set to a close.
Like a fine wine, FM gets better with age. Such a slick unit, they all make it look so effortless. When Danny Vaughan later remarked. “We could hear FM singing from upstairs. Are you going to sing for us?” I consider that to be a job very well done, don’t you?
You can read the Tyketto report, here.