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Firefest 2007
Rock City - Nottingham

27 October 2007

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FM Diary: Firefest IV - Nottingham Rock City - 27 Oct 2007 - Ant Critchley

In the beginning…

I was 15 or 16, can’t remember exactly, but my over-protective mother had finally allowed me to attend my first concert. It was at the GMEX in Manchester and I was there with a friend of mine to watch Status Quo, not realising that the band supporting would quite simply change my life. FM were extraordinary that night, I was hooked and from that night on I made every effort to watch FM whenever I could. 12 years ago, I witnessed what I thought was my last ever FM concert at Bradford Rio’s. I had no idea the band were splitting up, and I had no idea they had until I read it somewhere in Kerrang or RAW magazine. Heartbroken was the word, I could understand why they had split up but wished it hadn’t happened.

I found myself in a fortunate position a few years later, I had gone through numerous courses and landed myself a job as a web designer at a college. It is there where I decided to put FM into cyberspace (or the interweb as Andy puts it), and was born. It was initially designed to put my fond memories of watching this great band online and for other FM fans to follow suit. It was a pretty good success I felt, and from there a number of discussions were made on how we can get the ‘mighty’ FM back together for one more show! I spent hours on the phone speaking to Dave Thomas (from the SO! website) on ways and means of pulling together enough cash to get these guys back together – even for just one more time! Imagine how I felt (well I know you will have had the same feelings) when I heard from Merv Goldsworthy that FM would be playing at Firefest in 2007. Goosebumps time!

Summer 2007
After passing to Craig Lawton (thanks for keeping it going mate, you’re a star), I found myself in the extremely fortunate position of being able to find the time to help the newly-reformed (there is a god!) FM with visuals for the Firefest show. I kinda knew how to create these things, I had the software at work anyway… oh, but I can’t really blag this as I do day to day at work, this is FM and this is going to be filmed for a DVD and sh*t, there are going to be 1700 people there. Oh b*ll*cks, I better learn this software quick sharp-ish.

So there I was with a set list sent to me by the guys in the band, songs already in my heart – I had the ideas already on how I wanted them visually displayed. Just doing it is gonna be difficult. I could really bore you with the details but I won’t – I will tell you though how exciting it was to be able to put my heart and soul into the music I love, the music I have rarely gone a day without listening to. I have to thank Pete especially for listening to me pretty much every day on the phone throughout this summer, listening to my ideas and making sure they work with what they had in mind. Again to be trusted by my heroes with an empty canvas, with their genius, is so hard to describe.

26 October 2007
Can you believe it, FM have a rehearsal tonight and I’m going!!! To a rehearsal! Sh*t, I was pretty nervous. I had met Pete and Steve recently but I was finally going to meet up with Merv, Andy and Jem again after a very long 12 years. I had a drink at the hotel before leaving for the rehearsal studio. And you know what happened… my fiancée and I had a Burger King with FM!!! Okay, the guys in the band are as down to earth as any guy in the street, but these are still my heroes and I’m having a Burger King with them. Too good to be true!

Back to the rehearsal, just to make sure I get some idea on when to start these clips at the big event. Also it was great to meet up with the rest of the crew, fantastic people – all with the same intention of making sure that the FM return was a huge success. Then it was back to the hotel for a few drinks, before attempting to get some sleep as we have to be at the venue at 9am to set up.

27 October 2007
It was strange, I was there a while – ages it seemed, waiting to get the screens up and then to test the laptop to ensure everything was working. However this was not to be, the screens only got fitted to the racks 5 minutes before the doors were due to open. But at least during this time I was able to witness the soundcheck, last night's rehearsal was great – but that soundcheck blew my mind. I knew they were gonna be awesome on the night. I spoke to Dave Ling shortly after soundcheck, and I think the pair of us had a tear in our eye, FM are back! Time to wait now, spent some time back at the hotel with Lisa (my fiancée) but there was no denying I was nervous, how stupid – I mean all I was doing was pressing a mouse button… but it had to be right in my opinion, this is FM and a massive opportunity.

Ten minutes before FM were due to go on stage, I watched Tyketto’s final song and they sounded fantastic. The crowd gave them a big send off, but I still hadn’t had the chance to check that the laptop was working with the plasma screens. Off came Tyketto, time to get the laptop set up, many thanks to Richard Lloyd for easing my nerves by making sure I was plugging the correct leads in. I was positioned behind Andy’s speakers, to the side of Pete – which was perfect as I could watch Pete closely to get my cues. I sat there dying for a p*ss but there was no way I was leaving now - FM could be ready to start at any time. Once Pete was ready, the Dad’s Army theme began and I pressed play… perfect! I looked out behind the speakers to see the crowd, it was packed, absolutely heaving.  

I didn’t get to see a great deal of the gig, but what I did get to see on occasions was the joy on the faces of the crowd, the crowd singing out song after song. These people feel these songs the same way I do, and I have been very lucky to play some tiny part in this evening. It was incredible, FM when I was 15/16 were extraordinary, this FM sounded better than ever before, better than I could have imagined. Thank you so much for playing again, it means so much. Once the gig had ended, we went back to the dressing rooms, there were smiles and tears of joy there. I realised it didn’t just mean this much to the fans, it meant just as much - even more maybe - to the band members.  They deserved this night more than anyone, as they have always deserved so much more than they received in the past.

FM are back, the boys are back and roll on 2008!