The Planet Rock Roadshow at The Deaf Institute
Words | Photos: Anthony Firmin
Earlier in the year, at The Bad Flowers album launch gig in Birmingham, we were introduced to Those Damn Crows who made a big impression on us so naturally we were more than happy to learn that they are opening this evenings Plant Rock Roadshow at The Deaf Institute. The band are playing their firey, bouncing brand of classic rock of which new song Behind These Walls has a suitably epic feel to it and Blink Of An Eye is already deemed a classic by their fans, which segues smoothly into another bouncer, Breakaway.
They certainly have their fans here this evening and judging by this performance they will have a few more. The band clearly wear their collective hearts on their sleeves with set closer Rock N Roll Ain’t Dead, it is simple yet effective.
The last time we caught The Bad Flowers was at the launch party for their debut album in Birmingham, since then their rise as a leader in the NWoCR as a blues rock power trio has been dramatic. From the bang of the ‘starting gun’, they open with three part salvo of Hurricane, I Don’t Believe It and Lions Blood without stopping to give the crowd a chance to catch their breath.
Be Your Man has a wonderful late 60’s blues rock feel to it with Dale Tonks bass growling away against madman drummer Karl Selkis’ tub thumping, both of which underlay Tom Leighton’s blistering guitar licks – a modern day guitar hero in the making. The band don’t rest, such is the urgency to squeeze every last second out of their set.
The vocal delivery in Let’s Misbehave has an undying passion that carries through to the wah driven solo and is, for me, the highlight of the set. And it is this presence they now have that is important – Tom Leighton seems both more comfortable and more confident as the frontman.
We are teased with a new song which will be recorded for their next album in the new year, I Ain’t Ready has that growling bass shines through once more.
Can You Feel It drips in the swagger of Led Zeppelin before the band finish with a trio of pure raucousness: the Thunder Child rolls in before Rich Man and City Lights end their set. They are well loved by all here.
Finally we get to Stockport’s finest classic rockers, Federal Charm. The band having re-invented themselves after some line-up jiggery pokery released their third album recently. Passenger is a cracking album but the title is misleading, it should really be Driver.
The Deaf Institute is a venue they seem to habitually return to and everyone is welcoming them back warmly so being on home turf they can hardly fail. Coming on stage to a jungle beat that leads them into a fast paced Swing Sinner swings the band around and grabs everyones attention from the start. If The Bad Flowers weren’t stopping to let the audience breath, Federal Charm are sucking all the oxygen out of the place!
They are showing everyone how it is done and this new line-up is a significant upgrade as is the refined couture of their stage clothes. The addition of a lead singer is a masterstroke, Tom Guyer doesn’t stay still and is surely the new focus for the band; lead guitarist Paul Bowe seems so much happier too as the band are gelling perfectly, everyone is in tune with each other and this shows in their performance.
Guess What and Can’t Rule Me continue the charm offensive as the Fed’s don’t take prisoners. Following some slow Zep-like blues Choke picks up the pace again as Guyer sings “Kings of the world…”, perhaps metaphorically.
Older songs have a place, a powerfully reimagined Silhouette sounds stunning - this new band have made it their own and dragged it out of the shadows.
Federal Charm have put absolutely everything into this performance - it flows and it shows; even in the last song there is no let up, Gotta Give It Up is bruising. Here’s to hoping they don’t give it up and become kings of the world.