The queue waiting outside The Globe for doors to open were full of eager excitement with two bands plus the The Hoax! Getting the three-course live music menu off to a rocky, bluesy start were Federal Charm, this young Manchester based band are winning fans whenever they play. The vocals are good but tonight the acoustics at The Globe were not their friend as the sound was loud but lacked clarity, turning it down does work sometimes, and the sound needs to be adjusted to the size and acoustics of the venue. This is a band with loads of potential and I hope they become more blues based and not go down the rocky road that just tips a hat at the blues. They have a nifty rhythm section, and the interplay between the accomplished a stylish guitarists Nick Bowden and Paul Bowe taking the lead up front is a delight to watch and listen to as they combine this with good vocals. This was a great band to open the evening delivering tracks from their début album The Album including Come on Down; as you listen to the band the influences are wide including Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzie and The Stones. This is a band that is touring far and wide honing their skills and developing their own charming style.
Then next onto the stage are ‘Well Hung Heart‘ who toured with The Hoax in 2013; so to many they were not a new phenomenon this is a band that is proud to be different with punk influences and the lead singer from U.S.A they could be described as Ameripunk. Robin Davey is the guitarist, using effects to good purpose and has the opportunity to play lead rather than the Bass he is recognised as being a master of when playing in The Hoax. Greta Valenti on vocals is the energetic, charismatic fronts-woman of the band bringing a lively dynamism to every note she sings, she was at times quite Bjork like, but overall this is a band that is telling their own musical story with style and panache. Making up the trio is Alex Thomas on Drums, Percussion and backing vocals who has just joined the band for the tour so tonight was his second night, it didn’t show as the timing was tight and the interplay and communication between all three meant this was a tight unit of a band delivering authentic live music that was fun to listen to and the closing number demonstrated this perfectly with a unique take on Whole Lot of Love. They went down well with a vibrant sound and an expectant crowd waiting for the main act.
The stage went quiet and the anticipation rose within the audience as they waited for the drum kit to be dis-assembled and the stage re-organised for The Hoax, who soon were on the stage with a resounding cheer before a note was struck. I am writing this part of the review from memory – why I was so entranced by the band I just never put pen to paper that is what The Hoax does as they punch out the blues driven notes you are enthralled, drawn into the event. Reality takes a break as you live the moment relishing every note struck by the guitarists who have unfathomable depths of talent Jon Amor left of stage and Jesse Davey right of stage flanking Hugh Coltman with his vibrant harmonica playing and stunning vocals that are as clear as a bell. The bedrock of the band that allows the three up front the freedom to bend and shape the songs are Robin Davey laying classy Bass and Mark Barrett on Drums driving the tempo and ensuring this five-piece of individually brilliant and inventive players remain tight and anarchy never comes to the fore. The set was a mix of favourites from the early days of the Hoax including Bones, Groove Breaker and Feedin’ Time when they are renowned for being the most influential Blues Band of the last twenty years that resulted in a cult-like following and when they disbanded left a huge gap in the British Blues scene. Now back playing gigs and festivals here and in Europe they are gaining new followers and delighting everyone who remembers the gigs of the nineties. Every track was played with talent and they delighted in each other’s skills and talents, with Stick Around being played which was ironic as no-one in the audience was going anywhere, they did not want to miss a single note or any of the glorious vocals from Hugh. No wonder they are appearing across the categories of the British Blues Awards 2014, they are back on top of the crest of the wave they departed in 1999 and tracks from their latest album “Big City Blues” were all well received, such as Hipslicker and Give Me a Drink”. The encore did not include the signature event of Jon and Jesse swapping guitars the stage to small but never mind the chemistry between them all is awesome and we wanted them to play on and on the set finished far too soon and many favourites were not given an airing tonight. What an evening of entertainment, disappointingly for a Friday night in a capital city many Cardiff blues fans missed what could be the Cardiff gig of the year.. This is a reflection that there is not a gigging venue in Cardiff that plays the blues regularly… catch them if you can as the tour continues and hopefully they will be back in 2015.
Rest of the tour:-
17th April – Norwich Arts Centre – The Hoax
18th April – The Picturedrome, Holmfirth – The Hoax
19th April – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham – Federal Charm, Well Hung Heart & The Hoax
20th April – O2 Academy, Islington – Federal Charm, Well Hung Heart & The Hoax