I was lucky enough a few weeks before Christmas to see The Temperance Movement during their ‘Small Rooms New Tunes’ tour – you can read about that here. The small room was Soho institution The Borderline. The new tunes were first public outings for tracks that would later appear on the band’s third studio release A Deeper Cut. Well the new record is here and I’ve just had the pleasure of experiencing the new tunes again; this time though on the first date of the Deeper Cut tour in the rather larger environs of Concorde 2 in Brighton.
It’s the first time I’ve been to this quirky venue, buried under the arches and deep into the sea wall right on the beach. Although there were limited tickets on the night, the place was rammed and I wouldn’t have fancied many more being crowbarred inside. With a capacity of six hundred, it’s big enough to know you’re at a proper gig. With a low ceiling and decent acoustics, it’s intimate enough to know you’re at a proper gig. In other words, it’s just about the right size. I liked it.
At just after nine, The Temperance Movement emerged. From stage left, guitarist Paul Sayer fired up the stabbing chords of new album opening track (and recent single) Caught In The Middle. Everybody seemed very familiar with it. I suspect since its release three days before tonight’s show, A Deeper Cut has been being played on repeat by many of the people in here. It’s a very dedicated fan base.
Following sophomore album White Bear, The Temperance Movement underwent some personnel changes. Founding guitarist Luke Potashnick left the band to pursue production opportunities; his able replacement in the now stage right guitar position is Matt White.
Shortly after Potashnick’s departure, drummer Damon Wilson followed suit and now Simon Lea occupies the spot at the back. Everyone loved Wilson but it feels the addition of Lea has moved the band into another level entirely. His crashing performance during the building drama that closed new song (and sure to be new live favourite) Another Spiral was something else. The skin belting was matched bar for bar by Sayer, who played out a fabulous solo and demonstrated just what an accomplished guitarist he is.
Meanwhile, centre stage the whole is cemented in place by the charismatic presence of Phil Campbell. Clean shaven and with shaggy, cropped hair, Campbell looks fairly unassuming – that is until the music takes hold. His arms and legs fly out at all angles and he’s rarely got both feet on the floor at the same time. But what he arguably lacks in coordinated dance moves he very much makes up for with a vocal performance that can out gravel Bon Scott.
And there’s great depth to Campbell’s performance too. He plays piano during Children and Backwater Zoo and an acoustic guitar whilst sweetly singing A Deeper Cut – it’s a beautiful rendition of another archetypal Temp song that builds and builds. I think it might be my favourite from the new record, but it’s so hard to choose.
The set closed with Know For Sure, one of only a handful of songs played from the excellent debut Temperance Movement album. There were some notable omissions tonight but the band can’t play forever and with new music to promote something had to give. Still, Know For Sure is a great tune and live it sounds more funky every time I hear it. During the intro, I was half expecting Stevie Wonder to get wheeled on with a Clavinet under his arm. At the close, the band encouraged the crowd to chant the refrain until they were ready to come back out. This was probably unnecessary since in my experience, the audience would have done that anyway.
The UK and ROI tour concludes on March 9th at the O2 Forum, Kentish Town. The band will be touring A Deeper Cut through mainland Europe until mid-Summer.
Review & Photography by Simon Reed. The Temperance Movement at Concorde 2, Brighton on 19th February 2018.
Simon has his own music photography site here: http://www.musicalpictures.co.uk