Federal Charm, Mojo Sinners & Blackballed, Clwb Ifor Bach
It's been a long time since I've been to Clwb Ifor Bach for a gig and even longer since I have been to a gig in the downstairs area. It's a nice cosy room that slowly filled as we waited for the show to start, due to their being a club night after the gig it was an early start with opening act coming on at 8pm sharp, both the supports were hand picked by Federal Charm to get all three bands on the bill more exposure and trying to keep the scene alive. So the lights dimmed and the first band were up and it was time to rock.
Hailing from Manchester the dapper three piece took to the stage and indulged in some heavyweight groove rocking, the band's motto is "Play it like you mean it" and they really do formed by the Gill brothers (Leon drums/vocals and Marshall guitar/vocals) along with bassist Tom Wibberley the trio hit the stage with a confidence and a quirky attitude all too often overlooked by other bands, the music is groove-laden classic blues with Marshall playing a mean guitar in the ragged style of John Lee Hooker and Willie Dixon while his brother destroys the drum kit like Keith Moon. Their set was drawn mainly from their debut full length with Olde England stealing the show with it's dramatic, atmospheric drum led opening, that builds into the bands heaviest song. A real treat to watch Blackballed's dual vocal fueled heavy retro blues approach was the best aperitif for what was to come. 7/10
Another three piece this time from Wales, The Mojo Sinners are an interesting prospect live with Dane Campbell on drums and Ross McInch on bass they have a massive rhythm section that hammers away with the yet more heavy blues but it's David Williams' guitar prowess that shines through channeling Eddie Van Halen and the legendary Jimi Hendrix when he plays the elongated intricate technical solos, that also have the prerequisite amount of soul. The band only have a an EP but they breezed through it with some ease with Carousel the obvious standout. This was the first time I'd seen Mojo Sinners but this truncated set was enough to show me that their live show reflects the quality of their EP, bring on more music and more shows.7/10
With short changeovers between all the bands I was only on my fifth beer when Federal Charm took to the stage. I haven't been the most familiar with the band if I'm honest but listening to their latest album Across The Divide released 2015 I was expecting a good show, however what I got was simply superb show, built upon the dual guitar playing Nick Bowden and Paul Bowe Federal Charm have been called nu-blues but what they are is band that bring the classic sounds of Zeppelin, Whitesnake and even Wishbone Ash to the modern era with a hefty blues base and a heavy rock riffage bolstered by L.D Morawski and Danny Rigg's fire breathing engine room, this allows Bowden and Bowe to trade licks and leads with Bowe possessed by the spirit of Angus Young as he duck walks around the stage peeling off solo after solo as Bowden sticks mainly to rhythm playing but can also slip out a solo or a lead harmony when required. The set commenced with the hard hitting Gotta Give It Up immediately showing the bands huge balls and swaggering, sleazy, bluesy riffs as well as Bowden's soul drenched vocals into the funky Tell Your Friends and one of my favourites Hercules.
The pace was kept high throughout the band blending classic influences with more recent sounds Guess What having a distinct Zeppelin vibe to it with the love lorn spirit of Paul Rodgers at work on These Four Walls and the blues rock fury of Rory & Taste was palpable on No Money Down. I have a lot of respect for Federal Charm as they have a very D.I.Y attitude promoting this tour with very short notice and insisting that it was also used to promote local and underground bands shows that they care about the UK's live scene and much like they have paid some of their dues they are using their inaugural 'headline' tour to demonstrate the healthy state of the British rock scene. As with a lot of bands there is nearly always a cover included in the set and Federal Charm were no different, they pitched from left field though as a nod to the bluesy side of Tom Petty came with a run through of I Should Have Known It that was proceeded by the double header of the rocking Reaction and the moody The Stray meaning that it slipped easily into the set.
Coming in at 15 songs it was a mammoth setlist but the band seemed like they could have played another 15, as the night wrapped up the final twosome of Master Plan and Silhouette was the best evidence that Federal Charm are a force to be reckoned with live and I expect to see them in bigger venue in the future. 9/10