SIMO, Aaron Keylock, Federal Charm O2 Academy Islington

In the immortal words of Frankie Valli “Oh what a night”.

Three bands in a hot, sweaty and very crowded bar playing balls-to-the-wall rock and Blues. I cannot imagine a place I would rather have been.

The night opened with Manchester’s Federal Charm and they laid down a tight and punchy set, heavy bass lines and thudding drumbeats courtesy of LD Morawski and Danny Rigg alongside passionate and hard-edged vocals from Nick Bowden and hot guitar licks from Paul Bowe. Standout number was probably their new single ‘Silhouette’ but they had the crowd with them from the opening chords and showed – yet again – that they should be one of the most closely followed indie bands on the scene.

Oxfordshire’s Aaron Keylock followed and delivered about 40 minutes of blistering 70’s style rock. On paper he could be yet another arrogant youngster, signed to a big label and with more attitude than licks but thankfully he delivered on so many levels. His vocals were woefully strangulated through the early numbers but his guitar does most of his talking and whether he was tearing out classic riffs or some powerful slide it talked the audiences language. His band weren’t shabby either and they delivered on track after track. With his long hair and lanky frame he looks as though he should be driving a Camaro down a dusty Mid-Western backroad and he plays a wonderful style of classic rock with all the joi de vivre of a natural. Top class.

Finally we come to SIMO. They are just immense. I love a jam band when all the parts are as capable as each other and SIMO have just that. JD Simo goes off on flights of purest auditory fantasy, creating noises that should never have been possible from a Gibson and in Adam Abrashoff and Elad Shapiro he has a bass and drums section who are able to keep up with his changes and not get in the way when he goes to uncharted lands. This is Psychedelic Blues done the right way – abandon strictures all ye who enter here. I saw them last year in West London and they were great but this was just superb.

A brilliant night, very loud and no space to move but three terrific bands and I left happy and exhausted.

Picture copyright Laurence Harvey