Two years since they last played Newcastle, and only a few months away from the release of their first album in a few years, it’s nice to see the return of blues-rock heroes, Federal Charm – albeit with a different lineup.
Hitting us straight off with a double hitting opener of ‘Swing Sinner’ and ‘Hercules’, Federal Charm set their stall out early with an up-tempo Black Crowes meets Led Zeppelin combination of cosmic country rock and blues influenced heavy rock; it’s a winning combination in both its boogie-driven guitar sound and its assertive, working-class hero narrative.
Displaying a range of tempos and influences across the evening, Federal Charm proves adept in cosmic rock, blues and heavy rock.
Though there are plenty of standout performances, the star of the show tonight is rhythm guitarist Mark Davies who plays a blinder both with his intricate playing and also the energy and motivation he provides both to the band and the audience. Though happy to stand, for most of the evening, tucked away at the back, he’s a player you can’t keep our eyes off.
Tracks of the night ‘Hercules’ and ‘Silhouette’ both provide a musical texture for frontman Tom Guyer to provide deeply soulful, blues-styled, impressive vocals. A combination of local lad Eric Burdon’s back of the throat blues and Chris Cornell’s soulful emotion, Guyer’s vocal is the key ingredient in ensuring that lyrics about social injustice and class divide land a way which sounds personal rather than preacher-esque. Subtle in their delivery, but forceful in their intent, they play a huge part in the identity of the band; as is the Yardbird (Plant and Clapton) styled playing of lead guitarist Paul Bowe who blends blues playing with intricate guitar leads. Both ‘Stray’ and ‘Concrete creature’ provide an opportunity for Bowe to cut loose with inspiring guitar playing.
With a new album with us soon, it’s worth keeping an eye on Federal Charm.