The sounds of FEDERAL CHARM [from Manchester, UK] remind us of that intriguing folk-smashed early blues that Led Zeppelin brought to the game in 1971.

Albeit theirs is punk-tinged and has an uneasiness about it that transcends folk to become edgy in its anxiety. Thus the scream of guitar and the clamour of rhythm on cover “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” comes as no surprise at the 2016 ROADSTARS gig – at the O2 ACADEMY, Islington.

The too-tight to be comfortable upstairs room was a swaying doughball of sweating muscle. Too crowded to get to the bar for a drink — or even squeeze to the bog — the [mainly] male audience had to share shoulder-blades and armpits in a mangle of testosterone heft.

Silhouette” was neat, sharp and punchy — the vocals delivered by skinned Nick Bowden and as volatile as you could possibly imagine. This performance was urgent.

Aaron Keylock - a pandemonium of colours... Image by Laurence Harvey
Aaron Keylock – a pandemonium of colours…
Image by Laurence Harvey

We have been loving young AARON KEYLOCK from Oxford, England for a while now. This notable British guitarist has already shared stages with Slash, Joe Bonamassa and Blackberry Smoke and his play and stance remind us very much of Johnny Winter.

His “Against The Grain” [taken from the forthcoming album] is a pandemonium of colors. With a lot of skilful and authentic bottleneck slide-work and a dauntless lyrical hook. We decided it was the kind of psychedelic blues-rock that will never fade.





SIMO - mind-altering crossworld... Photo credit Laurence Harvey
SIMO – mind-altering crossworld… Photo credit Laurence Harvey

Like most of the guys in the stifling hot upstairs-room at Islington we crave the psychedelic hard rock of the ’60s. So, CREAM basically.

Naturally, then, Nashville’s SIMO is a huge treat for us. Because their oomph! is as real as it gets.

Their trademark woogie and frenzy is extraordinarily energetic. Although he is a colossal talent, JD Simo is a humble type. So you don’t get attitude or vexation. Instead you get groovy guitar and joyous vocals.

I’d Rather Die In Vain” had that kind of riff that immediately grabbed us and threw us into the depths of its mind-alterating crossworld.

Just a third of the way through the song we got the fuzziest, emotion-filled and über-jazzy expressionist guitar solo. Yeah, this guy knows he’s a genius, we decided — but the art was not thrown in our face.

Like all blues lovers, we are looking for overdrive in our instrumentalists. And believe us when when we say that the lionization of SIMO is at the very tipping point of realization.

Great triple header, this whole evening sizzled with energy.

Too bad it was not in the large room downstairs. The problem is — next time — all these guys will be playing in a concert hall. We will never get this close again.

Words: Neil Mach 2016 ©
Images: © Laurence Harvey

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