Federal Charm Farewell Show at Rebellion: Live Review
Words: Anne Estella | Photos: Anthony Firmin
On 6th September, the band that were once described by BBC Radio 2 as “Probably the hottest Nu-Blues outfit to have come out of the UK in the last twenty years”, said their final farewell. It was a bittersweet hometown show, surrounded by fans and loved ones who had travelled from far and wide to be there, Federal Charm gave Manchester one last night of their Blues-toned Rock ‘n’ Roll to remember.
Local lads Oceans On Mars were first to warm up the stage with their fuzz-fuelled, Indie-Alt-Rock stylings. The young quintet, comprising unassuming vocalist Joe Sant, guitarists Angus Scott and James Oldham, Alex Fairhurst on bass and Greg Wilkes on drums, played a 7-song Grunge-laden set, including their latest single (and first ever music video) Until We Vanish, as well as popular track, People In My Head, which has been streamed in excess of 70,000 times on Spotify! As the opening act, there sadly weren’t many people yet present to see them perform, but with another Manchester show scheduled for November, you’ll get a fresh chance to see them if you missed out this time. Visit their Facebook page for details.
Oceans On Mars are:
Joe Sant – Vocals
Angus Scott – Lead Guitar
James Oldham – Rhythm Guitar
Alex Fairhurst – Bass
Greg Wilkes – Drums
The band with arguably the best name on the bill was up next. Consisting of Sam Chadwick on vocals and rhythm guitar, Mike Holland on drums, Jack Graham on keyboards, and brothers Mike Griffin and Josh Griffin on lead guitar and bass guitar respectively, Sheffield-based Velcro Teddy Bears served up a hot slice of no-frills, ‘70s-inspired Rock ‘n’ Roll, whose feel-good vibes clearly delighted the slowly expanding audience. Chadwick’s deep, gravelly vocals made a powerful impact as he roared through the setlist, which included the foot-tappingly catchy singles That’s What Makes You Right and Leave ‘Em Alone. A more mature five-piece than the previous act, Velcro Teddy Bears brought a raw, old school energy to the stage and proved that they are definitely not your average bears.
Velcro Teddy Bears are:
Sam Chadwick - Vocals / Rhythm Guitar
Michael Griffin - Lead Guitar
Josh Griffin - Bass
Jack Graham - Keys
Mike Holland - Drums
Almost exactly a year since the release of their third acclaimed studio album, ‘Passenger’, Stockport’s Federal Charm were playing their final ever show at renowned City centre nightspot Rebellion. The band, who formed in 2013, have spent the last couple of years touring, which included a ‘Planet Rocks Presents’ co-headline UK tour with The Bad Flowers (now Wolf Jaw) around this time last year, as well as recent appearances at festivals such as Winter’s End, Camden Rocks and Weyfest Music Festival in August.
Although the reasons for the split haven’t been made explicit, what was clear is that this was going to be a scorcher of a show. Stepping out to the familiar intro of Swing Sinner, the lineup, which included Tom Guyer on vocals, Paul Bowe and Kyle Ross on guitars, L.D. Morawski on bass, John Simm on drums and Mark Davies on keyboards, looked like a group of best friends who’d just arrived at the party of the century.
“This is our last show and we’re here to celebrate the good times!” hollered singer-songwriter Tom Guyer, who joined Federal Charm back in 2017. The affection the crowd had for the band was plainly obvious, and the ample set included a good mix of hard-hitting Rock, intermingled with sultry, bluesier numbers. There were of course several highlights, notably crowd-pleasing opener Swing Sinner, Choke, Emerald Haze, one of Bowe’s personal favourites Parting Words, and The Stray, which was dedicated to a couple of long-term supporters in the audience, who were nearly moved to tears by the touching gesture.
The interaction between band members, particularly Morawski and Ross, was exactly as you’d expect from a group of musicians who are extremely comfortable in one another’s company and have practised, played and toured together as much as they have. The sheer amount of foot stomping I did during Federal Charm’s set had me silently thanking the Gods of New Rocks for the massive metal heels on my boots – anything less simply wouldn’t have withstood the impact…
As the end of the set neared, an emotional Bowe said, “Thank you guys, THIS IS IT!” before hugging Guyer. Bowe then stood at the edge of the stage and gazed out at the audience, as if he were taking in one last glorious image to etch in his memory. Final song, Gotta Give It Up, saw Davies swap the keys for a guitar and the whole band jammed together as the crowd clapped their hands, in what was an explosive finale. They will be sorely missed, but what a way to go out!
So what’s next for the band? They haven’t completely ruled out playing together again, one day, maybe… but will be embarking on their own ventures and projects, so I hope we’ll hear some news from one or more of them in the coming months. Guyer has been talking about drumming for another band, but for someone who dances around so animatedly on stage, I have a feeling he might find sitting still at the back harder than it looks. Bowe, who has always had the energy, confidence and charisma of a frontman, should, in my opinion, do exactly that and front a new band. Whatever the future holds, we’d like to wish each and every member all the very best and I hope they’ll continue to make their mark on the UK’s Rock scene, which has appreciated their contribution probably more than they realise. They should be extremely proud of what they’ve achieved.
Federal Charm were:
Tom Guyer – Vocals
Paul Bowe – Guitar
Kyle Ross – Guitar
L.D. Morawski – Bass
Mark Davies – Keyboards/Guitar
John Simm – Drums (filling in for Josh Zahler)