Sunday night, live music fans gathered at The Louisiana, Bristol to watch three bands. Top of the bill the band that has risen from the flames like a Phoenix, Federal Charm. The question being asked would the rebirth rejuvenate a band that has always delivered on stage? The answer to that question will have to wait as first we have local girls band with a difference tonight Flowerpot & Gabriella Jones featuring Planet Rock DJ Wyatt Wendels who after running the London Marathon earlier in the day hot-footed it via the train to Bristol to drum tonight.
The Flowerpot once again delivered a strong set of edgy but accessible rock tinged with punk and fun. These young women just keep getting better. Tonight Ellie having broken her arm falling off a skateboard had to relinquish her spot behind the guitar to a young man Chris who stepped in with couple days’ notice. Hats off to him and his guitar his guitar fitted in perfectly. That is not saying Ellie wasn’t missed! Steph as ever on vocals powered through the original numbers that define the Flowerpot sound. Energetic, full on rocking out with moshpit sound. Steph’s vocal range is fabulous, perfect for the rock vibe created by the rhythm section of Morgan on bass. Morgan’s bass playing is deep down and dirty complimenting Jess on drums. She has the sticks under her control as she adds another intricate and hard layer to the sound. The set was short, sweet and the songs we know including Hollow about a snail and Loser Girl. This young band is still developing and they have the potential to be that little bit different.
Re-setting the stage including drum kit for Wyatt since he plays left-handed. The drumming was fast and hard-hitting a contrast to the diminutive Gabriella Jones up front with a great voice and Les Paul. Supported by her guitarist, Ed Swann who added layers of style and tone with some slide and fingerpicking adding the variety of tones to the set. Her bass player, Olly Powell complimented the guitar and drumming with rhythms that flowed across the stage and beyond. Gabriella and her band created a great sound, her vocals may lack rock grit they make up for that in a purity and the ability to add soulful emotion to the lyrics. She produced excellent R& B vibe and we loved the fact that Wyatt used Cowbell and had sticks that light up. The set was mainly originals we had slower break up songs and those for happier times. The highlight was, for me, Sweat Little Meteorite. For the crowds, it was that opportunity to sing along to her version of Bobby Bland via Whitesnake… Ain’t No Love in The Heart of The City. Another short set giving a flavour of what Gabriella and her band deliver live. Her dress may have been glittery but this wasn’t glam rock it was solid rocking RnB that will always be a crowd pleaser.
The audience was excited that Federal Charm was back on the road playing the music we want to hear. But not as excited as Paul Bowe and LD Morawski as they leapt on to the stage with the new members of a band reborn. On vocals, Tom Guyer, Drumming Josh Zahler and second guitarist and keys Mark Davies. The five-piece were tuned-up fuelled-up and ready to charm us with the new band.
With the addition of keys, and the enthusiastic animated performance Federal Charm was definitely rocking it out tonight. The setlist was a mix of the old familiar tunes re-arranged for the new line-up and some new tracks that may even be on the forthcoming album due out September this year. Tom’s vocals are superb fitting the new rock approach perfectly. He must run a marathon as he roamed around the stage at Louisiana. He was like a caged rock lion he needed more space. I am not sure if it was the acoustics of the venue or where the keys were placed, disappointingly for me the keys were lost and I missed the Gibson / Fender duals of old. But no looking back this is the new age of Federal Charm. Paul is still the star of the band pulling deep tonal colours and textures out of his Les Paul with deft licks, riffs that sting and lead breaks that entertain. As ever he sings and growls through a storming set.
As they dipped into Hercules and Master Plan from Across The Divide, we were once again reminded why we did not want Federal Charm to fade away and not be heard live on stages around the land. The only cover that was slipped into the set was Tom Petty’s I Should’ve Known Better; this was superb, suiting Tom’s voice as he delivered the lyrics with style. Federal Charm has laid down the marker they are definitely back on stage and seriously determined to play rock that hits the mark. I was just thinking when they rejuvenated themselves they must have flicked the charm and it landed fairly and squarely in rock’s corner. No, they must have thought again as they played Reconsider as they delved back in time to their self-titled album Federal Charm. Paul, blues and Les Paul are made to go together and Tom’s vocals suited this change of style and tempo. Keep mixing it up it makes for an interesting and varied set.
The set was powerful making a statement with highlights that flowed. Josh’s drumming was spot on tight and to the point laying down the beat for the charm to work. Numbers that stood out from a crowd of delights was Silhouette, I love this number live and a new song that will be a set list favourite of the future Death Rattle, demonstrating the death rattle was not of the band fading away but the crescendo of new ideas for new music for us to hear, get to know and fall in love with. Tonight Federal Charm, charmed Bristol as they rocked Louisiana this was a band recharged you have the energy and support please come back to Bristol soon.
Federal Charm Setlist
Nowhere is Home
I Should’ve Known It
Gotta Give It Up