Review by Rich Ward
Mancunian Blues rockers Federal Charm hit the stage at Leamington Assembly just before eight. They seem a suitable support, playing fiery blues rock with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Free and Gary Moore influences in evidence tonight. A storming cover of Golden Earring’s ‘Radar Love’, which goes down well with the crowd, is added to the mix of tracks from their self titled debut album.
A final cover of ‘Going Down’ is thrown in for good measure. Again, a popular one with the crowd, but if I had a pound for every band I’d seen cover this I’d be typing this up from my yacht in Monte Carlo. Finding something a little more obscure to cover and giving it the Charm treatment would help set them apart. A band well worth checking out, with the potential for much greater things.
Slotting in a few dates around some festival appearances, Joanne Shaw Taylor’s Leamington show is the closest to a hometown show for the now Detroit based blues guitarist. There are plenty of family and friends in the audience tonight for a bit of banter.
While the release of her fourth studio album, The Dirty Truth, is imminent, tonight’s set concentrates on her already familiar material. Kicking off with ‘Soul Station’, which is currently seeing a fair amount of airplay on Planet Rock, shows her in fine fettle. ‘Beautifully Broken’ shows a little more restraint, but it’s back to White Sugar for a great version of ‘Watch ‘em Burn’. Something that sounds considerably more substantial played on her now favoured Les Paul.
Tales of failed relationships are visited in the wonderful ‘Diamonds In The Dirt’. Hendrix’s ‘Manic Depression’ is covered and is stamped with the JST mark with a lengthy solo. ‘Jealousy’ allows for a slower moment, and is perfect for a moody and now uncomfortably hot Assembly. Undoubtedly though, it’s on the extended solos that Jo really displays the extent of her talent; none more so than on ‘Jump That Train’ where it really does send shivers down the spine.
She brings out local rising blues player Laurence Jones who is introduced as ‘my adopted little brother’. Together they run through ‘Going Down’ (it’s that song again!), and they seem to be having a blast on the stage together. It’s a great way to finish the main set. An encore of ‘Going Home’ rounds off a superb night of blues perfectly. A shame then, that after such a great show, that the attendance was less impressive. Having seen her pack out venues like the Robin several times, it’s surprising that there’s half that number here. It seems there is still some conversion needed for the people of Leamington.
Jo returns to the Midlands with a date at Birmingham Town Hall on 15th November with special guest Bernie Marsden.