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The Bad Flowers + Federal Charm + Those Damn Crows

Sunday 30th September 2018

The Borderline, London

It maybe the final night of the joint headline UK tour, but to the naked eye surely it would be more appropriately billed as a triple header.

This intimate venue in the heart of London’s West End is packed as Those

Damn Crows take to the stage. First on they maybe, but with so many TDC t-shirts in the crowd, it’s obvious who many fellow Rockers have come here to see. With one of the best debut albums released over two years ago and re-released this week, the South Wales quintet have certainly put in the road-work to know how to make the most of a criminally short thirty minute slot.

Opening with ‘Don’t Give A Damn’ and powering through fan favourites

‘Fear Of The Broken’ and ‘Someone Someday’, the new single and current Planet Rock favourite ‘Blink Of An Eye’ has everyone singing, before the fist pumping anthemic ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Ain’t Dead!’ brings it all to a premature end. The words “going places” do not even begin to describe the future of this great band.

Next up it’s the revitalised Federal Charm who have also recently released a fantastic new album in ‘Passenger’, and with two new members, vocalist

Tom Guyer and drummer Josh Zahler, from the minute they hit the stage it’s obvious they are in no mood to mess around.

The opening track from the new album ‘Swing Sinner’, with its rising

anthemic chanting, kicks off a powerful hour of great songs and excellent musicianship. As the set progresses it’s hard to believe that just an hour before we were chatting to a guitarist with a bad leg, a drummer with a bad finger and a singer trying to save his voice by not talking!

New tracks ‘Can’t Rule Me’, the brilliant first single ‘Choke’, along with

‘Death Rattle’, ‘Nowhere Is Home’, ‘Halo’ and ‘Parting Words’, all make an appearance. It’s clear to see just how much the band are enjoying this, none more so than Paul Bowe, who makes the lead guitar look effortless, with great solos and minimum fuss, he typifies the fact that tonight is all about the music, the fans and enjoying the occasion.

Not solely relying on the latest album, new life is given to older songs in

‘Masterplan’ and ’Concrete’, and before we know it, another hour has flown by. With only ten minutes break, the guys are back out at the bar and merch stand for a beer and a chat. Top guys and a lesson in perseverance - surely the next stop will see larger venues and bigger audiences.

After alternating the headline slot on the tour so far, tonight the closing hour belongs to The Bad Flowers, and if there is one thing that rewards endless gigging it’s the ability to close shows such as these.

It seems to be an unwritten rule that bands with just three members always make the most noise and Tom, Dale and birthday boy Karl are certainly no exception. Relying heavily on the latest ‘Starting Gun’ album (ten out of the eleven tracks are brought out to play here), it’s a blisteringly powerful hour with just three older songs to keep the die-hard fans happy.

The opener ‘Hurricane’ perfectly sets the scene for some great riffage to come. ‘I Don’t Believe’ and ‘Lions Blood’ keep up the storming pace as the crowd lap it up. Maximum rock out mode is put on hold for the slow burning brooding of ‘Let’s Misbehave’. It’s a short hold though as things are rocked back to the max with the excellent ‘Who Needs A Soul’.

‘Yonders Wall’ opens a three-song break from the album, but keeps up the breathless pace, and with the evening heading towards its inevitable conclusion, ‘Rich Man’ and ‘City Lights’ bring the curtain down on a truly memorable night.

So with the evening and tour over, this really does feel like one of those “I was there” moments. Surely if the “Those Federal Flowers” bandwagon were ever to roll into town again, The Borderline would not be big enough to park the bus. A truly great night, and one, probably, not to be repeated.

Phil C. (photos courtesy of Robert Sutton)

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