FM – Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London – 18th May 2018

Friday night in London, and there is nothing better to do than heading to enjoy two of the world’s greatest AOR bands, FM and Dare, joining forces to start their co-headlining tour across the UK.

The first support one-man band, Toby Jepson, came on stage just after 7 in a fairly sunny and hot London evening. Him and his guitar starting entertaining the crowd that gathered there early on with a very nice set, full of passion and energy on stage, even though it was an acoustic set. The setlist comprised of Little Angels songs like “Don’t Pray for Me”, “Young Gods”, “Too Young, Too Much”, where the crowd sang along cheerfully, some Wayward Sons songs and of course a Fastway track, “Deliver Me”. All in all, he set the atmosphere for the two other bands to follow.

After a very short interval, it was time for Dare to come on stage. The crowd was gradually growing and then Darren Wharton, still in a very fine shape after 30 years, came on stage and began singing with a very soft voice, blending perfectly with the music. It is only fair to say that the O2 offers amazing sound for most bands that perform there, but for this gig it was something special. The guitars sounded perfectly and the set was comprised of songs from both the old and the new days. Especially the return of the original guitarist, Vinny Burns, took the sound and the live versions of the songs to a whole other level. The setlist contained songs, such as “Sea of Roses”, “Until”, “Days of Summer”, “Wings of Fire”, “Into the Fire”, “The Raindance” and “Return the Heart”. Everyone around me seemed to sing along to the lyrics and enjoy the set. The highlight for me was the Dare version of Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald” and “King of Spades”, which included a very small portion of Thin Lizzy’s “Black Rose”. The guitars and the vocals were absolutely spot on, leaving me breathless after such a performance and ready to welcome FM to continue the AOR set and atmosphere.

Last band to come onstage was of course, FM, the kings of AOR. Having heard that their live performances are always good, I was very excited and looked forward to seeing them onstage. Their show kicked off very energetically and I enjoyed it from the first moment. The crowd was very enthusiastic and the band shared that enthusiasm too. From start to finish, they were jumping on stage, delivering a very enjoyable performance, getting the crowd to sing along to songs like “Black Magic”, “I Belong to the Night”, “Someday”, “Metropolis”, “Over You”, “Closer to Heaven”, the fantastic “Story of my Life”, the crowd favourite “Tough it Out”, “That Girl” and “Killed by Love”. What made a huge impact on me was the combination of professional musicians delivering an absolutely mesmerising performance, the crystal clear sound and the amazing lights on stage that made the perfect atmosphere. Highlights of the night were the long clear guitar vibratos and the amazing solos of Steve Overland (how can you overlook that slime green Strat?), the distinct keyboards and Mery Goldsworthy hitting the stage for 2 songs with his Key-tar, which made the crowd go crazy from minute one. The band continued to be on stage for two encore songs, “Burning My Heart Down” and a cover of Thin Lizzy’s (third tribute in one night) “The Boys are Back in Town”, with Dare’s Darren Wharton joining the stage for some more brilliant vocals. Overall, I would strongly recommend catching these bands on tour, it is a guaranteed enjoyable and brilliant concert and night out.

Check out the full gallery of photos here..

About Charis Bagioki