Gig review: THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT – Forum, Kentish Town, London, 9 March 2018

The Temperance Movement - Manchester Academy, 23 April 2014

There was a buzz about this gig. On the back of their third album smashing in to the actual charts at Number 6 and in the middle of a well-received tour, there was a sense that things were happening for The Temperance Movement.

The band did not disappoint, bouncing out onto stage with ‘The Stripper’ as intro music and ripping straight into ‘Caught in the Middle’. Phil Campbell on lead vocals and loud shirt was all over the stage and generally attacking the song like he meant business.

For me, their current platter, ‘Deeper Cut’ is a more polished, diverse affair than earlier outings on which the vocals really stand out. Live, Campbell puts in an excellent shift and does the album proper justice.

Which is just as well, as the first four tracks come straight off the shiny new one; and the band plundered nine of its 12 tracks in all.

There was a healthy Black Crowes/Blackberry Smoke swagger to the gig. The vibe runs through all their material. Not excessively, but enough to give a generous dollop of gorgeous Southern swing. Like ‘The Way It Was And The Way It Is Now’, which motored along on premium five-star, twin-guitar petrol.

Despite a seemingly heavy reliance on the new album, TM were not afraid to mix things up. Only three tracks in, ‘Love And Devotion’ was given a jolly up by the appearance of Thomas and Olivia from support act Thomas Wynn and the Believers on backing vocals. Then an early appearance of the first ballad. ‘Higher Than the Sun’ oozed class and sat well in amongst the heavier bluesy material.

A coupling of older material with ‘Be Lucky’ bleeding into ‘Ain’t No Telling’ fired up the crowd no end. There was a thrilling change up for the guitar breaks on the latter between Paul Sayer and Matt White. What is it with lead guitarists and hats these days?

The TM stage set up is pretty simple. The protagonists are mostly lit with bold primary colours against a textured curtain backdrop. The feel is blues club-esque with the band gathered around the drums stage-centre and acres of space at the wings. No gimmicks.

A highlight of the set was the slow burner ‘Another Spiral’. Campbell, aided by tambourine, delivered an impassioned, swelling vocal line as the prelude to extended guitar fireworks from Sayer and White before Simon Lea on drums worked himself up in to a rhythmic frenzy. Stunning.

TM again showed maturity in their set construction when they picked up the pace with a mid-set power trio of ‘White Bear’ tunes, including the title track, followed by ‘Three Bulleits’ (a brand of Bourbon, I gather) with the dirtiest riff all night over a choppy rhythm – a big fan favourite; and then ‘Battle Lines’ which showed the benefit of being a regular in the set, coming across with much more fluidity and structure than the album version.

Dipping back to the band’s debut, ‘Know For Sure’ was another crowd sing-along moment and packed more tingly guitar-duelling, including delicious shards of sublime slide.

There was another power-ballad moment in ‘Wonders We’ve Seen’ before an almost spiritual version of ‘Only Friend’. More than anywhere, this track conjured up The Stones.

Set closer, the slow-building ‘Deeper Cut’ featured Campbell on acoustic guitar whilst putting in another gravelly-throated tour de force. Again the confidence of the band is underlined by resisting the temptation to quit the stage on a rocker.

But it was OK, because the rockers came back in the encore.

Campbell took his place at the electric piano, jigging around like Little Richard on speed, belting out the chords to ‘Backwater Zoo’. The track is a great stomp, with a verse construction startlingly reminiscent of Cat Stevens’ ‘Can’t Keep It In’ (which must be the first time I’ve ever invoked that name in a GRTR! review).

The boogie-filled, Faces-inspired ‘Midnight Black’ closed the gig out in triumph. The band performed the obligatory crowd selfies and departed to the strains of ‘Wichita Lineman’.

Great gig. The band have an excellent live show, dripping with quality and all the right classic rock/blues touchstones. Underpinned by strong and diverse songwriting craftsmanship, The Temperance Movement are surely upwardly mobile.

Review by Dave Atkinson

The Best of 2018

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Power Plays w/c 3 August (Mon-Fri)

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