Molly Hatchet/Federal Charm –
The Plug, Sheffield, Saturday 8th December, 2018
Set List: Swing Sinner/Guess What/Can't Rule Me/Death Rattle/Masterplan/Choke/Get Through/I Should Have Known It (Tom Petty Cover)/Halo/Concrete Creature/Gotta Give Up.
And it's time to hit The Plug again, just over a week after seeing John Coghlan's Quo in this very room. A cold rainy night it is too – well it is frikkin' winter dammit! Anyway, the support band, Federal Charm were late letting us in due to a problem with the sound of a keyboard – so we were left freezing to death in the doorway – thanks for that right? Eventually we were let in because it was too cold not to be.
When Federal Charm hit the stage their frontman apologised after the first song – good of him anyway. I'd last seen them on a dual headline spot a few months previous up the road with The Bad Flowers so was good to see them again in close proximity. The band are well-rehearsed with their frontman being a fast moving jerky dancer who at times I think tries a little too hard so it doesn't come off natural.
He's piping and wailing out lyrics to songs that have a late 60's, early 70's vibe to them mixed in with bands of the retro now such as Bad Touch, The Answer and Rival Sons. It's quirky and keeps the people here interested and into it early on in their set not to mention there are plenty in – probably to get out of being in the rain no doubt – only kiddin' hahaha!
An enjoyable enough warm-up band to see who even throw in a more obscure Tom Petty number in the set going by the name of 'I Should Have Known It' that I personally didn't know but should have done – oh the irony there. They praised Molly Hatchet for having them on the tour, telling us Phil McCormack was watching us too – we did spot him at one point too!
'Charm give us some cool rock 'n' roll poses with plenty of guitar, bass and drum chops to match with a few solos to impress us with too. No doubt we will see them again in Steel City – hopefully not when its pissing it down and baltic outside!
Set List: Whisky Man/Bounty Hunter/Gator Country/It's All Over Now/Devil's Canyon/ Solo/Beating The Odds/One Man's Pleasure/The Fall Of The Peacemaker/Jukin' City/Dreams (I'll Never See).
Encore: Flirting With Disaster.
To prove these guys are so utterly blue collar the headliners were on stage before they started making sure the gear was good for the gig – no point throwing cash up for stagehands right? Anyway, this was the first time I had personally seen Molly Hatchet on home turf – the last time being at CocoFest in Cape Coral, November, 2009 which they also happened to headline.
It didn't get off to the best of starts due to the there being no lights on the stage with Phil McCormack greet us with my buddy Steve Cooper joking, “It would be better if we could see you!” amid laughs and agreement both onstange and off. Then after a bit more banter the lights come on as the Jacksonville boys crank up 'Whisky Man' with a big cheer.
Then we all have to contend with bad feedback. Guitarist, Bobby Ingram tells them to turn down from 500 to 400 to get rid of it as they can't go on like that. Phil had them turn his monitor off too. I guess it was being drive too high tonight. Mr. M thanked him and it's good thereon. Full southern steam from this point on ensued with plenty of 'Hell Yeah' screams requested by Phil for the next 90 minutes with everyone digging it. Oh and there were plenty in for the show as well who cheered at times like their lives depended on it.
All the firm faves were featured in the set with a healthy helping of whistling, harmonica playing for the appropriate songs - 'Gator Country' or 'Bounty Hunter' being good instances. All of MH were bang on form musically and vocally and really into it with Ingram cooking up some smoking solo sections at the front. Some of the members were rather bigger than I saw them last but they are getting on a bit.
Nice drum solo from Shawn Beamer who went through the whole set with the fans on constantly creatiing good pix when it came to hair defying gravity moments. Phil talked about about fallen friends and band mates as well as family since him and Bobby had recently lost their dads and of course in 2017, Dave Hlubeck (an original founding member and guitarist) had passed away, not to mention, the former vocalist Jimmy Farrar who died on 29th October this year. 'The Fall Of The Peacemaker' was played to honour them all with Mr. M doing his salute and pledge to the United States here in Sheffield.
It was actually kinda strange not having Hlubeck up there - Bobby had his work cut out but the sound was fat due to having keyboards courtesy of John Galvin and the brilliant bass work of Tim Lindsey making up for the Dave'less line-up and introduced later in the show with a supreme Dixie-fried solo from each. They were as tight as hell but loose at the same time, jamming Southern Rock in an authentic way that totally saluted any former comrades or lovers of this hardcore American musical genre.
A kid at the front got over excited causing him to be told to calm down a bit though it is good to see those way young loving Southern Rock – a pity more don't follow suit as they are missing out a lot. Talking of things missed, 'Freebird' was in the set but they didn't get around to playing it but we did get it pre-recorded-wise before Hatchet hit the stage. Now I wonder how many of you out there caught one of Bobby's guitar picks.
We were treated to a cut from the 1996 album, 'Devils Canyon' that Phil said was the first album he song on back in 1996 – actually the title track itself that went down really well. Th audience got really into the singing part too especially early on during their rendition of 'It's All Over Now' made famous in the early 70's by The Faces which really impressed the boys in the band. They really liked the crazy, wild audience too which had the rapturous rapport of an well tanked up biker crowd.
There were quite a few song highlights on this cold Sheffield night that included the always epic Molly Hatchet version of The Allman Brothers Band's 'Dreams (I'll Never See)' as their rendition is way more rocked and sped up than the original; as well as other staple songs like 'Beating The Odds' and their flagship farewell tune to us all in the encore which was of course the fantastic 'Flirting With Disaster' that always goes down a storm wherever it happens to be played either side of the pond odds.
All in all it was very much a greatest hits list that we were treat to which we won't be complaining about any time soon. It would have been nice to have heard something from their most recent album 'Justice ' though – that's my only nag at the set but you can't please everyone can you? Merch-wise they had two shirts for sale that commemorated the 40 years of the bands existence in namesake with the long sleeves at £40 – that's a £1 for every year right? They said they would sign them at the end as well – bargain! Oh and short sleeves at £35! I saw a small queue at the end anyway.
Now you know it's all over gig-wise when the pizzas get taken backstage. Anyway, musically speaking, the sounds of the south certainly rose tonight. See you next time!
By Glenn Milligan