May 22, 2024

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The Nantwich Jazz Blues Festival is firmly entrenched in the UK music calendar: Video, Photos

This is the 26th such event and this year 150 acts are playing at a range of venues over the Easter weekend. Bands performing this year include Sad Café, From the Jam and The Blockheads. Rock at Night is in town to see Saturday night headliners FM supported by Blues Rock band Brave Rival.

Brave Rival is establishing a strong reputation as an accomplished Blues Rock band and I was looking forward to their set. Unfortunately due to transport problems I arrived late and only caught the last few numbers but this was enough to confirm what an emerging talent this band is. The band consists of the twin powerhouse vocals of Chloe Josephine and Lynsey Bonnick, Ed (The Shred) Clarke (Lead guitar), Joanna Peters (drums) and Billy Dedman (Bass) and are a force to be reckoned with.

They have a distinctive sound that has drawn widespread plaudits from those in the know, including Joe Bonamassa, and has seen them as finalists in The British Blues awards for the last three years. Their closing number the powerful “What’s Your Name Again?” showcases the talents of all five members and is worth checking out on their album “Live at the Half Moon”, available on streaming platforms.

FM is celebrating 40 years in the music business by releasing their fourteenth studio album “Old Habits Die Hard” and touring extensively across the U.K., E.U. and South America.

Earlier this month they played gigs in Brazil, Peru, Argentina and Columbia and tonight they kick off the UK leg of their tour as Saturday headliners at the Nantwich Jazz, Blues and Music Festival .

Despite their heavy tour schedule they are looking fresh and are firing on all cylinders. Renowned for their engaging melodic rock vibe, sweeping harmonies and scintillating musicianship they are a band with a rich pedigree.

The setlist tonight features many crowd favourites including “Killed By Love”, ”Tough It Out” “Frozen Heart” and “Synchronised”. The B side from their first ever single and the first song the band ever rehearsed “Say it Like it is” is apparently a reluctant inclusion in the set but bowing to fan pressure they play it to raucous approval.

Their latest single “Out of the Blue” lifted from the new album, fits in seamlessly and has all the trademarks of an FM anthem. The song originated with keyboard player Jem Davis who said “the band love the songs of Toto and Foreigner and so I tried to put those influences into one track”. Mission achieved I would say.

In between tracks, frontman Steve Overland chats with the audience about their South American tour and the rigours of taking six flights in eight days. He also enthuses about how good it is to see the town of Nantwich “taken over by music” for the festival and how happy the band is with the new album due for release in early May.

Collectively the band is a tight outfit They are note perfect from start to finish, delivering each song with a fresh vibe. There are no elongated time-filling solos here, just full on quality .

The band is obviously enjoying themselves on stage and the mood is infectious. The crowd need little coaxing to join in on choruses and judging from the number of current tour T-Shirts on display, there has already been brisk business at the merch stand.

The main set concludes with “Turn This Car Around”, which includes a brief Quo moment before the band swiftly returns for a double encore of a passionate “The Story of My Life” and a rousing “The Other Side of Midnight” sending the crowd home, or to the Merch Stand, more than happy …

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