Federal Charm, The Cheese and Grain, Frome

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First gig out for new vocalist Tom Guyer was supporting UFO at the Cheese and Grain, an interesting little venue in a sleepy Somerset Town.

Despite taking me almost as long to get out of the town as it did for the whole Journey back, it made for an Interesting night.

It could be argued that it isn’t the first gig with the new line up as they played a warm up gig in Stockport under the name The Thamesmen.

Having been to a few of their shows last year I had another shock in store when I turned up, they had replaced the drummer as well, So since last year we’ve lost a guitarist, a vocalist and a drummer, Surely this will affect the dynamic of the band. We will see?

I spoke to Tom and put a few questions to him;

What interested you in joining Federal Charm?

A mutual friend approached me saying he’d given my number to Paul and that he was interested in having me audition for the position. I listened to the songs they had online and really liked them, so I decided to give it a crack. Six months later here we are.

Whats your feeling on covering the older material?

In regards to the older material, I really liked it, its got its roots in that badass old school blues that I like, but its taking it in a more contemporary direction. Plus I really like Nick’s vocals and they present me with some good challenges.

Plans for the future?

Our future plans are to work on the new album and gig as much as possible once it’s done. We’re excited to get out there and show everyone the new stuff we’ve been working on.

Why The Thamesmen?

It’s a reference to Spinal Tap, we wanted to taking on a low key show before the UFO show, and we figured doing it under another name was a good way to do that. It accomplished which was to give everything a test run and make sure we were performing everything cohesively. You can spend days in the practice room, but actually performing is a different beast. The gig went well, so morale was high going into the UFO show the next day. This weekend will hopefully set the tone for everything going forward.

Tonight the band are opening for UFO, and while a lot of the crowd have come for UFO, they warmed the audience up well, something they’ve always managed well, and is a good way to introduce the latest incarnation of the band back into the music circuit. I believe as a band they are currently re-branding Federal Charm on their website and social media sites. I don’t believe it will take long for the band to be ‘back up to speed’, but will they be out gigging as hard as they did in 2016, in 2018, guess that’s one we have to wait for, certainly with a new album out in the near future that must be the plan.

One of the things I’d always liked in the past was the ‘twin guitar attack’ the band presented on stage, it’s now left to the incredibly capable Paul Bowe to provide the guitar work solely, and it worked, but I did miss the twin guitar interaction on stage.

Tom’s vocal range was something touted by the band, ‘as having an incredible vocal range’, he may do, and that may have come across at the audition, but tonight Tom led Federal Charm through many new songs off the as yet untitled album 3. The band has moved away from that bluesy style in my opinion towards a harder rockier edge, it suits Tom’s vocal style and is the shift the band are heading towards.

The older material Master Plan and Silhouette, always a crowd favourite, didn’t sound or feel the same way, but I guess with a new vocalist and style it will be different. Although two very different bands it’s a bit like Steve Hogarth of Marillion singing a Fish song, very different styles and versions of the same band.

Some Bands cut it straight away with a new vocalist, while others need time, while I don’t doubt the bands capabilities; this is a departure from the old and bringing in the new Federal Charm. I enjoyed the gig but I think I will need time to adjust to a new version of the band, in a sense – Federal Charm version 2.

Enjoyed live music for ages, from intimate gigs to the bigger stadiums. More recently adding photographing those gigs. I guess If i had to sum it up I just love keeping music live.

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