Federal Charm are absolutely desperate for you to remember their name. Lead singer/guitarist Nick Bowden must repeat it 10 times during the course of their half hour. He is also keen to let you know that their debut album has just been released. On the evidence of this evening it is most probably a fine affair, as their set is packed full of retro charm. There are many bands ploughing this type of furrow right now but Federal Charm have something a little bit better than most.
“Reaction” and “Tell Your Friends” are good, but perhaps what sets them apart is “Reconsider” as not many bands of this ilk could change to out and out blues as easily – or as well.
The Michael Schenker Group is a pretty stellar outfit. In addition to the eponymous hero, they also have a couple of ex members of The Scorpions in the shape of bassist Francis Bucholz and drummer Herman Rarebell, session musician extraordinaire Wayne Findlay and Tank singer Doogie White.
Such a cast list has bought the public out into the blistering heat of The Robin and the masses are not disappointed. Notoriously volatile, Schenker at his best is pretty formidable, and he is bang on form tonight.
Kicking off with “Lovedrive” by The Scorpions, and following it up with a second in “Another Piece Of Meat.” This sets the tone, as this is a trawl through Scorpions, MSG and UFO tracks for the next 100 glorious minutes.
There is also time for a couple of brand new songs from a forthcoming album due in November. “Horizons” is good, but “Before The Devil Knows Your Dead,” dedicated to the late, great Ronnie James Dio is absolutely brilliant.
The second half is a quite stunning affair, largely because it is in this section that the band chooses to play most of the UFO songs. The chance to hear these songs played by the man who played these riffs is a chance not to be missed. “Shoot Shoot” excellent, “Only You Can Rock Me” is better, but best of all, perhaps, is “Rock Bottom” complete with a quite phenomenal solo from Schenker. Oh and by the way, in between all these they casually toss out “Rock You Like A Hurricane.”
How do you top this? Well you could come out for an encore that includes “Doctor Doctor” I suppose. Not a bad way to end, really.
In the last few months RTM has seen guitarists like Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler and Joe Satriani and Schenker is in that class tonight. One of those nights that is actually far better than you thought it would be.
It was quite, quite brilliant.