Tuesday, 11 March 2014
LIVE: Temples - Bournemouth Old Firestation 7/3/2014
James Bagshaw - vocals, guitar
Thomas Warmsley - bass, vocals
Sam Toms - drums
Adam Smith - keyboards, guitar, vocals
It's a slightly surreal experience for me looking around the crowd here tonight. Viewing the younger contingent, huddled up towards the front of the stage is a little like falling through a time hole and looking at myself with my mates 25 years ago. What makes the feeling more pronounced is that there is a real buzz around the band we are about to see, and it's infectious, feeling like that flush of excitement most of us get at some time in our lives when we realise that a band we really love, who seem to have been waiting on the sidelines, are about to make that major leap forward.
Frustratingly, Temples have found it hard to break through to mainstream radio to date (although BBC 6 Music have been championing them). They have an evident affinity with the psychedelic sounds of the late 1960's, but they are not a mere tribute act by any stretch. They pull off that very special trick of sounding very familiar, like an old friend turning up unexpectedly after a long absence, and yet sounding brand spanking new as well. They display their influences and reference points proudly, but are not in awe of them. Their music is not about lifting a lick or a riff, it's about capturing a feel, that same feel that all those great records you love have given you, a far more tricky proposition. That their first long-player has generally managed this beyond any reasonable expectation is nothing short of remarkable.
Looking further back across the crowd, it becomes apparent that there's a far wider spread of people here than initially meets the eye. Veteran gig-goers look on from further back, taking a possibly more cynical view. They've been stung plenty of times, frequently promised this year's next-big-thing, only to be greeted with this season's Emperor's New Clothes. "Right then", their faces seem to say, "show us what you've got". I realise, somewhat reluctantly, that I fall into this group by default, even though in my mind I'm still that same 18-year-old music fanatic I was all those years ago, looking for the next sonic thrill, and this band have got me genuinely excited.
The advance word has been positive to say the least, and from quarters as disparate as tonight's audience: NME gave the debut album, Sun Structures, an 8/10 review, whilst issue 37 of Shindig! had the four lads from Kettering on the front cover, hailing them as "psychedelia's brightest new stars" (I can't wait to see the debate on issue 38's letters page). Then there are the Bolan comparisons made when discussing frontman James Bagshaw. These are probably starting to get on his wick, but it has to be said that he does seem to share at least some of the quietly self assured aura that gave the T.Rex legend his very special star quality, never mind the curly locks.
So, we've established that they can make amazing sounds on record. The question is, can they pull off the same master stroke on stage?
In a word: YES. Opting to perform their LP in its near entirety would appear to be an easy route on the surface, but it's quickly evident that the songs and performances have taken on something of an extra edge on stage since being committed to vinyl. Where the recordings made in their tiny home studio have a carefully crafted perfection, tonight's renditions are altogether more visceral and engulfing. Move With The Season is particularly affecting, whilst A Question Isn't Answered sparks off a mass bounce in the crowd. Even Sand Dance, possibly my least favourite track on the album has been tightened and improved upon tenfold, although I would rather have heard one of my personal faves, The Guesser (ah, well). Meanwhile, a blistering performance of Ankh shows how easily a good track can be squandered on a b-side, managing to sound like glam-stomp and Meddle-era Floyd meeting head on.
Temples leave the stage with Shelter Song, whose appearance on YouTube kick-started this whole caboodle. They encore with the double whammy of Test Of Time and most recent single Mesmerise, and then it's all over, leaving a warm buzz up the spine.
Temples gather up lots of loose ends left behind, not just by psychedelia but anything and everything from glam to classic pop. They gather those loose ends into a ball, and they run with it. How far they can run with it remains to be seen, but they've made an impressive opening sprint. This thing could get big - it is to be hoped that Temples are left to grow organically with it, as there might be something very special here.
* Colours To Life
* Sun Structures
* A Question Isn't Answered
* The Golden Throne
* Keep In The Dark
* Move With The Season
* Sand Dance
* Shelter Song
* Test of Time