Those who can remember the period in question will recall that 1995 was a bleak time for British melodic rock. Gone were the days when AOR-coated goodness soundtracked a generation of MTV-raised 20-somethings as grunge cast its ubiquitous shadow over the fast-changing musical landscape.
FM and Romeo’s Daughter were just two of the dynamic homegrown talents that fell victim to the industry tastemakers’ declaration that Nirvana et al were the new rock. Both bands officially called it a day 20 years ago, although the writing had been on the wall for some time.
Back then the prospect of a tour two decades down the line featuring both bands and a raft of exuberant new material felt about as likely as David Coverdale re-recording a slew of Deep Purple classics and claiming it as a new Whitesnake record…
But in the ever-changing world of rock the seemingly impossible can happen. And in the case of this month’s FM/RD collaboration incredibly positive things can happen.
Even before opening act No Hot Ashes (another band reformed and reinvigorated) had played a note there was a buzz about this Newcastle show. Proudly upgraded from the cramped upper venue, the main venue was opened up to accommodate a Friday night crowd scarily reminiscent of the gang of long-haired toe-tappers found treading the Mayfair Ballroom floor when FM were at their peak (drummer Pete Jupp just loved his T-shirt celebrating the venue and wore his Geordie keepsake with pride).
By the time Leigh Matty took centre stage the party was in full swing. Close your eyes and it could have been the late 80s all over again – a brief but glorious period in rock history that saw Romeo’s Daughter hit the US charts with Heaven In The Backseat and stand on the cusp of commercial success.
Nobody had imagined Nirvana back then.
Watching Matty in full swing – her deep, alluring voice as mesmerising now as it was in 1988 – it seemed the decision to disband Romeo’s Daughter was criminally premature in spite of grunge’s unforgiving assault.
New tune Radio and a glorious rendition of 2012’s Bittersweet confirmed the band had unfinished business that needed resolving.
FM understood as much almost a decade ago and since 2007 Steve Overland and his buddies have never looked back. Sustaining quality as well as quantity, the evergreen Londoners might just have released their best album to date in April and Digging Up The Dirt, the opening track on Heroes & Villains, got a furious-paced gig off to a flier.
More new music would follow but for long-time fans of the band an ice-cool version of Frozen Heart, a typically bullish rendition of the Desmond Child-influenced Bad Luck and a nostalgia-rich run through of Other Side Of Midnight provided compelling proof – if it were really needed – that FM never scaled the commercial heights their razor-sharp songwriting merited.
But the hometown fans were simply grateful that the good times had returned and melodic rock was back in fashion. For how long, who knows? But as long as FM and Romeo’s Daughter have the genre’s best interests at heart it’s a genre that won’t die anytime soon.