Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The Temperance Movement - Plymouth Review

Blues rock revivalists The Temperance Movement have been making a name for themselves since forming back in 2011. With influences ranging from classic bands like The Rolling Stones and The Black Crowes, as well as more contemporary acts like The White Stripes, the band's high energy brand of blues rock is easy to enjoy and their reputation as a live band is where they have really made their fans. I first came into contact with the band at the Cambridge Rock Festival in 2013, a month before the release of their self-titled debut album. Despite getting and enjoying the Pride EP in preparation for their festival appearance, it was their show to a packed out Main Stage marquee on that day that really convinced me that this was a band that was going to go places. The release of their album was successful for the band, and their star has been on the gradual rise ever since helped by plentiful touring. Despite a few opportunities to see the band in the UK since that appearance at the CRF, the band's tours have never matched up with my availability. They always seem to come around at busy times when lots of other bands are touring and I already have a lot in the diary. This changed this year however when the band announced an extensive UK tour of smaller venues than they would typically play to allow them to road test some new material for their upcoming third album. A show at the underused Hub in Plymouth was announced, so tickets were bought for this immediately. Sadly however, when the day finally came around, the band were forced to cancel due to an illness affecting frontman Phil Campbell. This was, of course, very disappointing but it only took the band and venue a couple of days to announce a replacement date. This was yesterday, just short of two weeks after the original date, which meant that there was not long to wait. The original date was sold out, but some tickets were returned by those who could not make the rescheduled date. I am assuming then that the second date did not end up selling out, despite some probable take-up on the door, but despite this there was still a large crowd in The Hub throughout the evening.

Support came from the punky two piece Naked Six who played for around 40 minutes and entertained the growing crowd with their fairly abrasive sound. Naked Six's sound was packed full of energy led by Seb Byford's (vocals/guitar) riffs. Many of the band's riffs were typical blues rock-style riffs, but played with plenty of distortion and energy while drummer Tom Witts punished his kit. While the band certainly had plenty of genuine energy, the band's material is very samey. After three or four numbers it became fairly obvious what the next song was going to sound like. That said, I did quite enjoy what the band were doing, as they had a kinetic stage presence and a tough sound, but I feel a little more variation in their material would really help them to stand out.

After a change over,  9:30pm rolled around and The Temperance Movement hit the stage and played right through until the 11pm curfew. With this tour being all about debuting some new material, it was fitting that two new numbers opened up the evening. New single Caught in the Middle and the bluesy The Way it Was and the Way it is Now both went down really well, and showed that the band have come on in leaps and bounds since that show in 2013. A couple of personal changes have happened since then, and it was one of the 'newer' members, Matt White (guitar/vocals), that impressed during these songs with some excellent guitar soloing. Improvisation and soloing has been given greater preference in the intervening years it seems, with both White and fellow guitarist Paul Sayer impressing throughout with their fast, bluesy licks. A few old favourites followed, with Magnify from last year's White Bear album impressing, before a couple of the band's debut album really got the crowd singing and moving. Ain't No Telling was the pick of the bunch with a strong groove, helped by Nick Fyffe's bassline, and containing a strong chorus for everyone to sing. Talking of singing, whatever it was that had been bothering Campbell a couple of weeks previously was now long gone and he often stole the show with his gravelly vocals and his erratic stage presence. He sure likes to dance, and he spent much of the set flailing around and generally looking like he was having a wail of a time. A few more new songs followed, including the excellent Another Spiral which started off fairly slowly before exploding in a huge rock workout including a lengthy and jaw-dropping solo from Sayer. Despite really enjoying the band's previous show in 2013, I had felt that the band were a little stayed and could have done with cutting loose sometimes. This solo from Sayer was exactly what I was hoping from from the band, and shows how powerful they can be when they really get going. This was followed by two more proper rock tracks from the debut album, Only Friend and Take it Back, the latter of which had everyone singing the wordless chorus back at the band. A few quieter numbers were included towards the end, including the lesser-played B-side Time Won't Leave and the title track of the upcoming album A Deeper Cut. Both featured Campbell strumming on an acoustic guitar and singing the more delicate tracks beautifully. The main set came to an end with a powerful version of Get Yourself Free, which left the crowd baying for more thanks to it's high energy. A couple more followed of course. The first was another new one, Backwater Zoo, which saw Campbell sat at a electric piano to lead the band through the jaunty, boogie-orientated piece, before the evening came to a close with the hard and heavy Battle Lines, a song which really sums up the band's sound and ethos. The setlist was:

Caught in the Middle
The Way it Was and the Way it is Now
Ain't No Telling
Higher Than the Sun
Another Spiral
Only Friend
Take it Back

Time Won't Leave
Built-In Forgetter
A Deeper Cut
Get Yourself Free
Backwater Zoo
Battle Lines

Despite having to wait a couple of extra weeks, this show was more than worth the four year wait! The band have come far in that time and, judging by the quality of the new songs on display, A Deeper Cut is going to be one of the albums to watch out for in the early part of 2018.

No comments:

Post a Comment