FM/Grand Slam – The Waterfront, Norwich, Saturday 9th April, 2022

Firstly, it has been great getting back to live music recently. Endless tours have been cancelled and rescheduled thanks to our ever-mutating virus. F.M like many bands are touring in support of not just one new album, but two thanks to the pandemic. So, I am buzzing with electrified excitement. Unfortunately, the venue itself isn’t. The Waterfront has strict curfew times, 10pm on a Saturday night!

Set List: Gone Are The Days/19/Higher Ground/Dedication/Crime Rate/Crazy/Military Man/Sisters Of Mercy.

A ridiculously early start sees only a half full venue as GRAND SLAM hit the stage. They begin with a Thin Lizzy like track, which is not surprising as the legendary Phil Lynott formed the band in 1984 alongside current Guitarist, Laurence Archer.

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Vocalist, Mike Dyer immediately engages with the crowd and promises not to get political! With his between song banter and a song dedicated to the Ukraine, Grand Slam get things rocking, as Drummer, Benjy Reid pounds his kit with flailing blond hair while Rocky Newton provides those bass notes! 

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A cover of Moore/Lynott’s ‘Military Man’ is my favourite as they play their well-received set. ‘Crime Rate’ written by Lynott, is another that hits the spot.

Set List: Synchronized/Bad Luck/Life Is A Highway/Waiting On Love/Crosstown Train/Long Road Home/Crack Alley/Killy By Love/Frozen Heart/Dangerous/That Girl/Tough It Out/I Belong To The Night/Metropolis/Over You/Turn This Car Around.

Encore: Story Of My Life/B&G/Other Side Of Midnight.

The mighty FM arrive on stage at 8.15pm, the venue still no where near capacity. New song and title track of previous album ‘Synchronized’ starts things off, with the faithful roaring their approval. As the set continues the sound lacks clarity and there appears to be technical issues. F.M struggle to hit their normal majestic stride. ‘Bad Luck’ is up next the audience joining in with this exceptional song.

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I think the set list does not help tonight’s performance; we have all waited so long to hear one of the finest bands in rock. Certainly, Steve Overland has one of the greatest voices to ever grace a stage, but with so much new material in the show it comes across slightly disjointed. Obviously, songs from the excellent recently released ‘13’ have to be played, ‘Waiting On Love’ ‘Long Road Home’ and 'Turn This Car Around’ all get an airing and are greeted enthusiastically, but to me it lacks a bit of flow and they lose momentum.

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The group are forever smiling and the camaraderie is there for all to see. Jem Davis, who also played keyboards for Grand Slam, in particular looks like he is having the time of his life, especially when it’s time for the encore and he joins in at the front of the stage.

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Merv Goldsworthy (Bass) and Pete Jupp (Drums) encapsulate the joy of playing, while Jim Kirpatrick (Guitar) is the moody 6 string gunslinger and the icing on the cake. ‘Story Of My Life’ restarts proceedings as that incredible voice engulfs the venue, ‘Other Side Of Midnight’ ends things joyously at 9.50 pm!

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It has been a good show, but nowhere near one of their best, I suggest the early start and finish did not help to create a spark. But overall, I think the show was as much about the songs they didn’t play as the ones they did.

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Nevertheless, I will be there for the next tour to witness one of the finest bands to ever emerge from these shores and more importantly, NORFOLK.

Review by Paul Rhino Mace

Photographs by Paul Hampson