A mere twelve months ago The Temperance Movement were barely known outside of London's music scene, with just a handful of gigs under their collective belts and a self released EP.
Now, as 2013 draws to a close, the five piece blues rock outfit have completed a sell out tour, had their eponymous debut album enter the charts at #12 (through word of mouth from their dedicated and loyal fans, rather than any big marketing campaign) and been voted best new band by Classic Rock.
After raving about their superb album for Metaltalk, I was keen to see and hear if TTM are really as good live as those who follow them say they are, and so I trekked to a chilly Manchester to find out, at the final show of the tour, and also the band's 100th gig.
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The Club Academy was filling up as I arrived, and it was not long before support act Joshua James took to the stage. This was my first exposure to his music, and I was hugely impressed with his take on American music. Mixing elements of rock, folk and country into his songs James is a talented writer and with the able assistance of his excellent band, performed his moving and often witty songs with real energy and emotion.
One song was dedicated to The Temperance Movement and sung in Spanish! Great fun. If you are a fan of Neil Young, The audience justifiably loved him, and he and his band received rapturous cheers and applause. Here's hoping James and his fine band come over from America and play here again very soon. Definitely an artist who should be heard more. I bought his album, 'From The Top Of Williamette Mountain', and it's a fine piece of work. Go check out!
After a short interval, The Temperance Movement strolled on stage and singer Phil Campbell, resplendant in shades, hat, and furry collared overcoat, grabbed the mic, whilst the other guys took their positions, and the band launched into a storming rendition of 'Be Lucky'. Campbell strutted around the stage, in a manner Jagger can only ever dream of, and soon had the audience in the palm of his hand.
With his piercing eyes, and energetic moves, he has a real onstage presence that few other singers can manage. Even if he could not sing, Campbell would be a compelling front man. He is, however, possessed of a fabulous voice; a voice that is equally adept at gravelly, throat ripping rock and roll as it is at tugging at the heartstrings on a sensitive ballad.
With barely a pause the group then treated us to a powerful version of 'Midnight Black', which if anything was even more ballsy than the opening number. In point of fact the energy levels just kept on rising throughout the whole show. and none of the band showed any signs of flagging. Some acts sound a little tired as the gig progresses, but not The Temperance Movement. These guys hit top gear from the off, and kept the foot on the accelerator right through to the end.
The hard rock continued with 'Morning Riders', before the band slowed things down with 'Smouldering'. Like all the songs performed tonight, this is from their debut album, and is an erotically charged ballad. It's the same live, but even more so, with the added bonus of a truly magnificent piece of fiery guitar duelling from guitarists Luke Potashnick, and Paul Sayer, which had hints of the interplay between Eric Clapton and Duane Allman on the LP 'Layla', ably supported by the impressive bass of Nick Fyffe, and drummer Damon Wilson. This one song is just example of what a tightly knit unit The Temperance Movement are, with Fyffe and Wilson laying down a solid soulful groove for the guitar pair to do their thing over whilst Campbell tops it off with an emotional vocal.
The gig was just one brilliant moment after another, and it's difficult to pick any one particular highlight. How about.... a beautiful a capella section during an otherwise electrified 'Chinese Lanterns'... an 'Only Friend' that rocked hard and heavy or perhaps an extended, soulful version of the gorgeous 'Pride', topped off by some gloriously mad guitar at the climax?
How about a driving 'Ain't No Telling', or maybe 'Serenity'? The latter was enhanced by a lovely mellow guitar introduction, courtesy of Paul Sayer, which added to the beauty of the song. Unfortunately for those of us who came to enjoy the music, this quiet intro, along with much of the gig, was spoiled by constant chatter. One woman in particular was either with a friend loaded with hilarious jokes, or was having great sex, as throughout the gig she laughed loudly at totally inappropriate moments. Go to the pub for a natter, and give us all a break! Rant over...
There was a brief break from the rock & roll, while Phil Campbell wittily introduced the band, at which point he revealed that Mr Sayer is a rather flatulent travelling companion! TMI, guys...
As a special 100th gig/end of tour celebration, Campbell welcomed the Joshua James band onto the now rather packed stage, and launced into a rousing 'Know For Sure', which had the whole crowd cheering at the climax. As the musicians left the stage, the roars, hollers, cheers and whoops got louder and louder. I'm struggling to recall any gig with such enthusiastic calls for an encore, and the crowd were not leaving until they got one. And get an encore they did!
As the excitement reached fever pitch, The Temperance Movement bounded back on, to cheers that raised the roof, and powered into 'Take It Back', giving a performance that left us exhausted, never mind the band, who if they were, did not let it show, for we were treated to one more number.
Strapping on an acoustic guitar, Phil Campbell led the band into a magnificent version of the wonderful ballad 'Lovers & Fighters', and had us all singing along to the rousing "shine on" refrain, and then it was all over. Or was it? After a couple of seconds, just when we thought the song had finished, the band literally exploded with a full-on sonic assault that rocked as hard as nails.
The guitarists traded licks over the the pounding grooves of Fyffe and Wilson, while Campbell improvised in real Revival Preacher style and urged us all to "SHINE ON", which we most certainly did!
And that, sadly was the final tune, and it was time to leave. As we walked out, deafened and exhausted, yet smiling gloriously, my wife and I both reckoned that was one of the finest gigs we had ever had the joy to attend.
Anyone who was at this gig, or any of the others on this tour, should consider themselves honoured to have seen The Temperance Movement so up close and personal, as if they continue with this form and keep on making superb albums, surely their audience will rocket, and they will soon outgrow small venues such as this one.
They worked 100% to give a stunning performance, and deserve to playing the Apollo this time next year. Go see them as soon as you can, but remember not to babble during the show!
How many pints out of five? Six foaming ones, stout yeoman of the bar!
Ain't No Telling
Know For Sure