Review & Pics (C) : Karan Dutta
Following the release of their third album in February this year, the Temperance Movement (TM) are back on the road belting out some classic blues / rock tunes, building on their recent chart successes. I had the good fortune of catching their show at the Forum in Kentish Town on 9 March and what better way to kick off the weekend then with a healthy dose of the Temperance Movement.
Earlier in the day, I had the opportunity to catch up with Phil Campbell in a candid interview which will eventually make an appearance on this website once my laziness’ dog stops eating the proverbial homework. Following the interview, I stuck around for the band’s sound check, standing alone in the middle of the Forum just taking in the energy and positivity I saw on stage. At the expense of sounding like a flower child of the 60’s, there was an aura about TM that seemed to fill the empty room like an invisible intoxicant that the band we’re putting out there in preparation for the gig later in the evening. And it seemed to linger – for when I got back to the venue that evening, the crowd were clearly high on that energy, singing and chanting songs from all of TM’s albums in an effort to coerce the band on to stage.
As anticipated, TM kicked off with the high tempo ‘Caught in the Middle’ from their new album and between Phil’s contorted body movements and Nick’s bumping bass, the crowd appeared visibly charged up as if the druid from the Asterix comics had just handed out a sip of magic potion to each of them. To be honest, TM’s on stage presence is uplifting to say the very least – big smiles all over Nick, Matt and Simon’s faces, Paul’s zen-like state of being lost in his guitar tones and Phil’s on-stage movements all combined to present the audience with the Temperance Experience.
The evening’s repertoire was, as expected, comprised of a number of tracks from A Deeper Cut. Three songs in, Thomas and Olivia Wynn (of Thomas Wynn and the Believers) joined the band on stage to bring about some ear melting harmonies on ‘Love and Devotion’. The interaction between these guys and the band was seamless, as if one big musical family were coming together to sing their hearts out and pour every ounce of their souls into the music. It reminded me of the freedom and interplay that is so notably seen in bands like The Allman Brothers, where each individual simply knows what the play / sing at which moment without so much as casting a glance at their fellow musicians.
Being their only gig in London currently announced on this tour, the Forum was packed near capacity as one might expect. Hitting number 6 on the UK Album Charts, amongst other chart successes, it was clear from the demographic of the crowd that the Temperance Movement have a fan base that probably spans 4 decades. Relative to their last album release in 2016, the crowd comprised a greater proportion of 20 and 30 year olds indicating an increasing appeal for their music amongst the ‘new kids on the block’.
As many fans would know, the band has been through some significant changes in the past couple of years with founding members Luke and Damon leaving the band. Often such events have a catastrophic outcome on the sound, musical interplay and chemistry of the most determined musician, however, one couldn’t tell that TM had been through this upheaval. Paul and Matt’s guitar sparring was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the evening, each feeding off the other’s riffs and inflections, working songs like Ain’t No Telling and Another Spiral into a frenzied crescendo only to be matched by Simon Lea’s drum overtures and a wall of sound that would tame a tsunami. How or where these connections come from is a mystery best left unanswered as long as the output is the Stones-esque, Black Crowes sound that TM have come to be known by.
The evening also included crowd pleasers from the older albums such as Only Friend, Be Lucky and Know for Sure which had the crowd singing along at deafening decibels and bouncing off the walls of the Forum. Most of the bouncing, however, was courtesy the 40+ individuals in the crowd which was a strong reminder of the kind of demographic that TM most appeals to.
As the gig drew to a close, chants for an encore were answered by Phil taking to the piano in a Pinetop Perkins style, Muddy Waters inspired, Backwater Zoo. Phil’s vocal versatility on the track was symbolic of the potential that the band continually shows in their song writing and if they continue to belt out tracks in this vein, the Temperance Movement are bound for even more greatness in the years ahead.
Overall, a great gig by a band with incredible stage presence, swagger and groovy tunes that make for an amazing evening of classic rock / blues. Can’t wait to catch these guys on tour again!
Intro (The Stripper)
Caught In The Middle
The Way It Was and the Way It Is Now
Love And Devotion (with Thomas & Olivia Wynn)
Higher Than The Sun
Ain’t No Telling
Know For Sure
The Wonders We’ve Seen
A Deeper Cut
Outro (Wichita Lineman)