Live review: The Temperance Movement
The Temperance Movement
Koko, Camden, London
Sunday, November 17
The tall, earnest, bald guy standing next to us, as anticipation builds for the impending (sold-out) musical affair, is unmoving; with the air of the ‘stationary gig appreciator’. The air of one who’d sooner put his head in a bag of eels than get down with his bad self on the dance floor. But then the lights go down. The fabulous five of rock’n'roll circa 2013 (aka the Temperance Movement) commence with sun-kissed groover Be Lucky and – as if suddenly, powerfully electrocuted – our unmoving man lights up into a whooping, head-thrusting, gyrating wonder. It’s a joy to behold.
They seem to have a similar effect on much of tonight’s, largely fairly blokey but still varied, crowd. It’s satisfyingly reflective of the good times the band have enjoyed lately. Their cracker of a debut (self-titled) LP was enthusiastically received by just about everybody; it promptly hit the UK charts at No.12; comparisons to the likes of the Black Crowes, Free and The Faces have been drawn; sell-out shows ensued, and last week they sealed this enviable deal by scooping Classic Rock‘s Best New Band award at the annual Roll Of Honour shindig. Oh yes, these are the Temperance Movement’s very good times.
Future, rapidly successful rock hotshots, take note: if you’re going to say balls to laurel-resting (and days off) and instead continue to build on your momentum, this is how you do it. Following a quality support set from Utah-based folk rock story-weaver Joshua James – earthy, emotive and driving – our headlining English/Scottish/Aussie hybrid take to the stage amid the kind of warm, we’re-about-to-sing-along-to-EVERY-word applause seldom reserved for organically-grown acts with just one full album to their name.
A wiry, furry-collared Phil Campbell – raw-throated rock demon in infectious foot-stomper Midnight Black; tender husky darling in the balladic likes of Pride – leads a down-to-earth yet confident, stylish outfit (and let’s be honest; we’d be contrived not to observe that they do look fantastic). Guitar duo, and founding crux of the group, Paul Sayer and Luke Potashnick create wonderfully natural, rugged yet melodically crafted progressions; coolly grooved along by bassist (ex-Jamiroquai) Nick Fyffe and drummer (played with Ray Davies among others) Damon Wilson.
Surefire slow-dance hit Smouldering lives up to its name, with harmonies here and across the set taking on a more layered, gospel-tinged form. Indeed, maybe it’s these harmonies, maybe it’s the Allman Brothers feel of some of Paul’s lead licks, maybe it’s Phil’s gesticulating performance (a bit like a mad, chickeny preacher), but there is something of a ‘rock’n'roll church’ quality to this show. The bluesy Americana imbued in their sound, together with the primal passion in their lyrics, stirs up merry soulfulness in the likes of Know For Sure. Maracas are involved, just because… well, hell why not?
But it’s mid-gig number, and all-round sterling tune Only Friend that generates the heartiest party vibe from the band. Hair flies, heads bang, genuinely delighted smiles abound… it’s all good. So good, in fact, that by encore time the crowd is chanting, stamping and clapping along with the tenacity of a particularly jolly football crowd.
What tonight’s joyously received show proves is that the impressive chart positioning, widespread recognition etc boils down to a simple point for the Temperance Movement: lots of people really like their stuff. And it didn’t take depressing, money-geared musical compromises for it to happen. Without wishing to sound pious (or to jinx it…) it’s comforting to know that sometimes it really is enough to just be a fantastic new band, with fantastic songs.
Words: Polly Glass / Photos: Kevin Nixon
Tags: the temperance movement