FM Old – Old Habits Die Hard 40th Anniversary Tour // Marco Mendoza // Alpha Sista // Live Review // The Limelight // Belfast

FM Old – Old Habits Die Hard 40th Anniversary Tour // Marco Mendoza // Alpha Sista // Live Review // The Limelight // Belfast

Once again I am back at my second home in Belfast, The Limelight. Tonight though it is a totally different affair from Monday nights mayhem of Vended and Co. Tonight we have a trio of fine hard rock bands to bring a little magic to the city.  FM one of the UK’s finest AOR bands, the majestic Marco Mendoza and our very own Alpha Sista are all here to melt our faces off!

I am looking forward to this one, I have been pushing press for FM for years and Marco Mendoza too, but alas have never caught either artists in the flesh, I see them touring the length and breadth of the UK mainland but tonight I have them in my very own home city, they’re all mine!

FM are a quality band from top to bottom, seasoned pros, and it will be a welcome deviation from the hefty metal I am inflicted with week in, week out, so a more sedate melodic nights music (Rock) will be greatly appreciated. As I land down to the venue the sun is shining, Belfast looks beautiful and I’ve got a full belly so life is good! I am particularly looking forward to catching Marco Mendoza live also, I’ve spoken with Marco (Interviewed) via Zoom a few times over the last few years, he’s a total gentleman, vastly experienced musician and like so many US based artists knows how to bring a live performance! So it will indeed be a bucket list tick moment to finally see the man work his magic in the flesh.

Let’s do this!

7:20 on the dot and Alpha Sista hit the stage, I’ve heard good things about these guys & doll and as soon as they kick off you know they have a quality about them in all aspects of the band, I see a few familiar faces from the local scene and other bands so you know there is experience within that can deliver a solid performance anytime they hit the stage.

Up front you have Hayley “Storm” Norton who is a powerhouse vocalist in her own right, a vastly experienced frontwoman she brings all the mojo this evening, the stage itself is rammed with gear so there is little movement from the guys in the band, I’d say they would suit a bigger stage and a chance to shine, the music is solid hard rocking tunage that gets the blood pumping and head bobbing in the crowd. They have their very own cheerleader who is giving it LOADS! Seriously must be on E’s or something this kid hasn’t stopped rocking out with the. And from the one t they hit the stage, great to see, every band should have one! No doubt though with the heat in this place tonight he’s gonna smell like a whores handbag by the end of the set but at the same time #respect



A very quick change over and the Marco Mendoza Trio are stage left hanging out getting selfies with fans waiting to go on! When they hit the stage Jesus H Christ! Explosive doesn’t quite do it justice, Marco and Co. (Drew and Chris) Unleash unholy hell on the Limelight! Marco’s set is just a blistering array of groove rock, thumping basslines, blistering guitar work and Marco’s soaring vocals all backed up by Chris’ thunderous drum work. Every chance Marco gets to play up to the crowd he does which is greatly appreciated by the Belfast audience, many of whom no doubt have had Marco’s soundtrack to their lives over many years as he played with some of the biggest names in the business. An absolutely killer set, banger after banger Marco curated a set that makes a real impression, stellar musicians, top top musicianship left Belfast begging for more. As the guys exit the stage Belfast erupts into seismic applause and rightly so. It was both awesome and sauce!


Another swift turn around and the lads from  Alpha Sista descend onto the stage to clear some of the gear, finally revealing the stage as it should be for tonight’s headliners FM. It’s hard to believe the guys are celebrating 4 decades doing what they love and staying right up there at the very top of their game. It is easy to understand why, their brand of easy-on-the-ear melodic rock is what ultimately what we all grew up on courtesy of our radio’s and tv’s, we are more in intune with the likes of Queen, The Eagles, who provided that musical staple on which we all go back to eventually once we have dabbled with a little more down and dirty rock ’n’ roll! FM are that comfort blanket we all need in our lives.

Right form the off the room is set alight with with beaming smiling faces far and wide and they roll their way through a barrage of classic FM hits that have their dedicated fans in fine form. One dedicated fangirl grabbed me just before they took to the stage to find out where the photos and review were going to be posted as she was a life-long FM Fan who had FM posters on her wall when she was 16! Now 17 (I jest) she’s lived a full life with FM as the soundtrack to her youth and it’s carried her into her twenties, thirties and beyond and she’s all totes emotes at the idea of catching them up close and personal once again. I believe the last time they played here was at The Waterfront Hall in 2014 and of course an acoustic set supporting No Hot Ashes album launch,  so it’s been a few years since we had the whole band on these shores.

But you can see exactly what it means to the fans in the room, warbling along with the band as they run through a plethora of sing-along anthems, ‘Digging Up The Dirt’, ‘Killed By Love’ ‘Out Of The Blue’ to name but a few, and the scale of the tour itself stretching from March to November and crossing all over Europe tells you how deeply their music resonates with their fanbase. The blend of tasty rock, stellar musicianship, gnarly guitar work from Jim Kirkpatrick, and of course Steve Overland’s glorious vocals all backed up with a delicious backline thick and resonate, what’s not to love.

As the night draws to a close and the lights come on you can hear the jubilation from the ground, delighted fans once again bonding in the love of classic rock, emotive songwriting all delivered up close and personal in an intimate venue, this is what it’s all about.

One night, three killer bands, till next time.

Review & Photography: Mark McGrogan

@flashartmark #flashartmark @rocknloadmag



FRIDAY 31 MAY 2024
Special Guests: Collateral**ABERDEEN, LEMON TREE
Special Guests: Collateral**