Having first seen The Temperance Movement at the 2012 Sunflower Jam at the Royal Albert Hall in London, it was clear that this young band had something new to offer to a (at the time) beleaguered music scene. It was telling as well that the the other acts at the Jam that night comprised of Rock Royalty with Alice Cooper, Bruce Dickinson, Brian May and more treading the stage after TTM had finished their brief set. The ‘Pride E.P.’ that followed maintained the momentum and finally delivered a full début which was lapped us by the masses both in the U.K. and overseas.
Fast forward a couple of years and as ‘White Bear’ is released, a slight delay caused by the US market needing time to absorb the début first, the band have risen rapidly from the smaller clubs and headline tonight the O2 Forum in London’s Kentish Town. The venue holds approximately 2,300 people and by the time the headliners came on stage every inch of space was packed with revellers. It’s some rise for the band, who, to their credit, have spent little time supporting bigger acts but have gone out and done the hard work and certified themselves as a true headline act.
Support comes from Canadian band The Sheepdogs.
A brief chat with Paul Sayer before the show takes place at the same time as The Sheepdogs are soundchecking. Paul pauses during our interview and soaks up the sounds coming from the band before smiling and expressing an immense love for the song being played. It’s a reassuring comment as it indicates that the bill therefore is likely to appeal to the crowd who will predominantly be there to see The Temperance Movement.
Paul’s views on the band seem to be shared by a reasonable proportion of the crowd. The Sheepdogs play a southern rock tinged set that shows influences from Lynyrd Skynyrd (natch), The Doors, The Allman Brothers and throws in a dash of The Eagles as well.
Lead singer and guitarist Ewan Currie has a great voice that suits this style perfectly and also proves that you don’t have to come from the deep south to be able to play this music well. Opening with ‘I’m Gonna Be Myself’, the sound immediately transports us back to late 60’s early 70’s American rock and given that Phil Campbell has been quoted that TTM celebrate everything from that classic era and style, it’s a great way to kick off proceedings.
The continue with ‘I Really Wanna Be Your Man’ the second track of the night to come from latest album ‘Future Nostalgia’. The solos come thick and fast from Jimmy Bowskill and it’s clear from the faces and shapes he throws during the lengthy set that he’s loving every moment. Shamus Currie, brother of lead singer Ewan Currie, looks like he’s enjoying his own personal Woodstock perched behind his keyboards where he also brings out the tambourine to add a dash of southern gospel at times.
As they get to the mid-set point, ‘Take A Trip‘, also from the current album gets an airing and this is really where the Allman Brothers influences show. It’s almost as if they were playing ‘Jessica’ or as a lot of people know it world wide, the theme from ‘Top Gear‘. The format continues and the exuberant crowd who are clearly looking for a good time lap it all up. Opening acts can be hit and miss but The Sheepdogs seemed to leave a lot of smiling faces and several muttered “never heard of them but must check them out…” conversations were heard in the break. It’s taken the band five years to release ‘Future Nostalgia’ (‘Learn & Burn’ was released in 2010). On the strength of the set tonight let’s hope that they keep the momentum going this time.
I’m Gonna Be Myself
I Really Wanna Be Your Man
Take a Trip
Help Us All
How Late, How Long
I Don’t Know
The Temperance Movement
Given the influences that the band acknowledge, it’s no surprise that the opening song tonight is a tribute to the late David Bowie, an artist who inspired so many different bands and helped drive the rock scene in the early 1970s. ‘Ziggy Stardust’ is played with gusto and sees Phil Campbell bounding around the stage from the moment the first note is played. Growing up, Phil must have been one of those children whose poor Mother was continually heard shouting “can’t you ever sit still” or “my God boy, you must have ants in your pants”. He is a whirlwind and that boundless energy is infectious and rapidly sees the majority of the venue moving as a single mass in time to the music.
‘Three Bulleits’ maintains the groove and style of infectious bluesy classic rock that we’ve come to expect from the band and the single from ‘White Bear’ has also given the crowd plenty of time to learn the song and it’s greeted as an old favourite. The next track however is somewhat of a curve ball. Fans of the Manchester scene from the 1990s will find much to like with ‘Oh Lorraine’ , with its swirling wall of sound that reminded me of The Charlatans at their best, a band, for the record, that I am also a huge fan of. It’s a song that shows the band aren’t a one trick blues rock band and that future albums could take them anywhere.
Phil Campbell, with his flailing arms and Liam Gallagher mixed with Mick Jagger swagger makes for the perfect front man. With Nick Fyffe and Damon Wilson lurking in the shadows at the back of the stage and Matt White and Paul Sayer hugging stage left and right, it really is down to Campbell to work the space of the large Forum stage and work the crowd as well. Both he does exceedingly well and it’s only after a wander up to the balcony that I notice the stage is covered in old rugs that give the whole set-up a very chilled bohemian feel.
‘Modern Massacre’, another track from the new album, delivers as expected a modern anthemic stomp along that gives the audience another shot of adrenalin and keeps the crowd heaving around the packed floor. Tracks like ‘Only Friend’ and ‘Take It Back’ remind us exactly why the band were so essential when they arrived on the scene and the tracks remain a breath of fresh air in a rock scene that is still struggling to find a modern identity.
As the band depart the stage after ‘Battle Lines’, they return quickly for a three song encore that takes everything down several notches. It’s a brave decision to play your mellowest songs as an encore. Typically an audience is full of energy and the cries of more and cheers for the band suggested that no one was ready to go home quite yet. When the band start up, they immediately go to the last track on the new album, ‘I Hope I’m Not Losing My Mind’ but it works perfectly. The crowd says and sings along as one and proves that you don’t always have to go out with a bang when the emotion around a song is so strong.
One of my favourite tracks, ‘Lovers & Fighters’ closes out the night and as the band depart, it’s clear that the ‘difficult’ second album wasn’t as difficult as it’s supposed to be and the end result fits seamlessly with the earlier tracks from the début. Definitely a band destined for bigger things.
Ziggy Stardust / (David Bowie cover)
Ain’t No Telling
The Sun & The Moon Roll Around Too Soon
Get Yourself Free
Take It Back
I Hope I’m Not Losing My Mind
A Pleasant Peace I Feel
Lovers and Fighters