Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Temperance Movement - Barrowlands, Glasgow, 3 March 2018

And lo, the joint jumped.
The snow may have been receding by last Saturday night when The Temperance Movement hit Glasgow, but transport was still a bit iffy, and it was still bloody parky to be going out for the night. None of that was stopping a healthy crowd from piling into the Barrowlands though, and proceeding to go nuts. There are a few reasons for that reception, I reckon.
First up, there are the songs. This set feels like it should have the strapline “And the hits just keep on coming”. Even the numerous selections from A Deeper Cut, which has only been out for a couple of weeks, are instantly greeted like old friends, right from the moment the entry tape of ‘The Stripper’ gives way to them blasting through ‘Caught In The Middle’.
Phil Campbell - A singularly Artful Dodger
Songs like ‘Right On Time’ and ‘Ain’t No Tellling’ combine big hooks with even bigger riffs, the latter boogie-ing along in Faces-like fashion, and they’re particularly adept at embroidering a rhythm guitar riff with a lead guitar lick. And when they take it down with the haunting opening of ‘Another Spiral’ they still find their way to a sizzling guitar solo and booming finish on drums that gel like the moving pieces in a kaleidoscope falling into a coherent image. They also chuck idiosyncratic lyrics into the mix which give the material a distinct personality - it may not be the same as the beat aesthetic evident in Mike Scott’s wordsmithery, but there’s still a poetic sensibility at work, making use of unusual images, alliteration, internal rhymes, and occasional phrases repeated sometimes just for the rhythm.

Second, they sure can rock a bit, not least when they brew up a storm on ‘Battle Lines’. Meanwhile Paul Sayer contributes telling slide guitar, to complement solos from Matt White and himself that range from spiky to wailing.
And then there’s Phil Campbell, a front man who is a true one-off. He’s only a little guy, dwarfed by Matt White to his right, but he’s got one hell of a big voice - and also a sensitive one when required, as on the come-down set closer of ‘A Deeper Cut’ itself.  Often he also makes singular use of rat-a-tat-tat phrasing and snap, crackle and pop consonants that go hand in hand with the lyrics – and make for admirable diction to boot.
Those qualities alone would be enough to make him stand out.  But Campbell is also a magnetic visual focus.  Capering about unselfconsciously, he dances in Mick Jagger-meets-Madchester mode, wigs out with tambourine on ‘Ain’t No Telling’, star jumps through the
Paul Sayers - silhouette slide guitar
segue into the showstopper that is ‘Built-In Forgetter’, and has ants in his pants while sitting to play rock’n'roll piano on the encore of ‘Backwater Zoo’.  You get the picture?

This was a great show – even if it confirms my view that TTM have a penchant for ‘wrong’ song titles.  Why ‘Built-In Forgetter’ rather than ‘Sister Mercy’, to quote just one example?  I doubt that will cost them though.  All those bloke-ish indie rock bands like Kasabian who do the rounds at the big festivals had better look over their shoulders.  Given half a chance The Temperance Movement will wipe the floor with them.
All the way from America, support band Thomas Wynn & The Believers complement the headliners nicely.  If Drive-By Truckers often encapsulate a drawling collision between rock and country music (as opposed to playing country rock), then the Believers sometimes conjure up a collision between indie rock and the kind of keening folk-Americana represented by Fleet Foxes.  Originals like ‘I Don’t Regret’ and the subdued ‘Wade Waist Deep’ make a positive impression, and one testifying stomp has echoes of ‘Gimme Some Lovin’’, while a cover of ‘Atlantic City’ starts cool and ends up towering.  Sadly the harp of Chris Antemesaris is inaudible for half the set, but towards the end it sounds like he’s doing something interesting things with effects, while Colin Fej adds subtle colour on keys.  And Thomas Wynn on guitar and his sister Olivia double up on vocals to really good effect.  Worth catching.

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