Review and Pictures: Jon Theobald
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something southern rock and blues. That pretty much sums up Friday night at Dingwalls with one of the Grandaddies of southern Rock performing alongside one of the brightest hopes in the new British rock scene. An unlikely pairing you might think but maybe it worked. Jon Theobald went along to see if the bands were Flirtin’ with Disaster!
Federal Charm must be one of the most hardworking bands in the UK this year – this reviewer has seen them on at least four different support tours and festivals already and this Manchester foursome must be looking forward to a few weeks break over Christmas.
Few of the Southern-rocking crowd at Dingwalls had heard of the band – judging by the conversations whilst we queued outside waiting for the delayed doors to open – but I know (from later) there were many that were impressed by the songs and energy generated by Tom Guyer (vocals), Paul Bowe (guitar),L.D. Morawski (bass) and Josh Zahler (drums) – especially given Tom and Josh are new band members this year.
Opening with the current single “Swing Sinner”, which has received regular Planet Rock airplay amongst other stations, Tom’s strong vocals and unique dance moves captured the audience’s attention. Paul’s driving guitar sound was assisted all set long by one of the crew holding the lead into a dodgy cabinet behind the scenes. The small stage hampered some of space for Paul’s solos and L.D’s animated bass playing but they didn’t let it show.
The older “Guess What” was swiftly followed by “Can’t Rule Me”, “Death Rattle”, “Choke” and “Get Through” from the new album “Passengers”.Tom welcomed the crowd’s positive response to the tracks by recounting some previous antics that happened whilst on tour in London involving Josh, some duct-tape and a chair in the hotel !
The passing of Tom Petty this summer impacted many and Federal Charm chose to remember him by covering “I Should Have Known It” – the ‘only track we wanted to do’ according to Tom – earning further audience respect.
New album track “Halo” started the home straight of this short but powerful set, “Concrete Creature” followed, before the extended drum rolls and guitar solos of “Gotta Give It Up” from the self-titled album wound the support slot up.
Whilst their smart clothing may be in sharp contrast to the usual garb of Camden Market stalls, Federal Charm definitely proved that they had both style and substance to win new fans tonight.
Any band that can clock up 40 years of rocking since their first album deserves respect and as the Dingwalls crowd waited way over the set start time they serenaded the band with “Blueberry Hill” as it played over the PA and no-one seemed to mind. The choice of “Here I Go Again” as walk-on music seemed to be a bit tongue-in-cheek.
The cheers when the ‘new’ band line-up of Phil McCormack (lead vocals), Bobby Ingram (guitar), Tim Lindsey (bass, backing vocals), Shawn Beamer (drums) and John Galvin (keyboards, backing vocals) took to the stage were as much a result of audience passion and anticipation, as a welcome start to the main act! And to be fair, ‘new’ is a relative term as the newest member of Molly Hatchet (Tim) has already done 15 years service
Starting with crowd favourite “Whiskey Man”, Phil McCormack’s Southern drawl and the laid-back Southern chords of Bobby Ingram felt familiar and comforting to all.“Bounty Hunter” and “Gator Country” were followed by Phil telling the crowd he’d been told that ‘this was a real rock and roll club’ and asking them ‘was it OK to play some British rock and roll?’ as they launched into the Rolling Stone’s “All Over Now”.
“Devil’s Canyon” preceded a solid drum solo by Shawn and time for the rest of the band to have a breather. A timely audience request meant that “Fall Of The Peacemakers” was next and Phil emotionally dedicated it to those serving and fallen servicemen and women from both countries, and beseeched those present to ensure music overcame any political differences.
Tim’s hot and heavy bassline struck out through “Jukin’ City” supported by the keyboard swells of John Galvin. Phil commented that as the last of 20 dates of this leg of the 40th anniversary tour he was looking forward to his own bed and Xmas at home, before wishing the audience a happy Christmas and launching into “Dreams I’ll Never See”.
The late start meant that the usual encore-opener “Freebird” was dropped and the band launched straight into their hit classic “Flirting With Disaster”. The incessant drive and rise of the song’s melody amply demonstrating that despite their age(s) and a 90-minute set, the current Molly Hatchet line up have amazing stamina, honed from years on the road. Whether it’s supplemented by moonshine or clean-living, I don’t care – make mine a double!
Review and Pictures: Jon Theobald