The Temperance Movement, Bristol
Following a hard weekend of some excellent quality classic rock and metal at Hard Rock Hell, a quiet night would have been welcome for some of your intrepid reviewers. However, because we are plain stupid, a mere four hours after getting back home, Matt and I (accompanied by Mrs H) were off to Bristol for another viewing of one of the most exciting live bands that the UK has produced for a long time.
Support band Raglans (7), disappointingly from Ireland and not the dirty ‘Port, were the second support act up (apologies to the openers but we were in the Hatchet). Delivering pretty standard indie style rock, they received a good reception from the already heaving Academy crowd. Energetic and enthusiastic, Raglans sounded rather generic to me but I'm probably not the most well placed to rate such a band. Mrs H appeared to enjoy them, and she knows a bit about indie.
Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to see TTM twice in three days. Their sets back in April and early May oozed class and energy, as they worked through a set that comprised mainly tracks from their self-titled debut which had been finely polished in the live arena as a result of the endless touring that new bands have to do these days. Both of those gigs were special, with large crowds and massively enthusiastic responses. Having been holed up in Rockfield for several weeks, this gig was a bit more of a challenge for them. It was the start of another short tour and that difficult period in the career prior to the new album release where unfamiliar material has to stand shoulder to shoulder with the established songs in the live arena and hold up.
Well, I'm happy to report that TTM managed to dovetail their set splendidly, with a generous helping of new material (including a beautiful closing track) sandwiched in between some of their superb debut songs. TTM picked a balanced set, ensuring that frontman Phil Campbell could deliver in his usual energetic style delivery, whirling around the stage like a dervish in the manner he has made his own. Decked out in leather coat, shades and Cossack hat, he sensibly had the lyrics for the new songs on a stand at the front of the stage although I'm not convinced he looked at them more than to change to the next song. The new stuff, as you’d expect, didn't quite have the smoothness of their earlier material, but demonstrated a more thoughtful, layered and textured level of composition; the creative juices are obviously flowing well within the band and they've been allowed to move away from the immediacy that any debut album has to have. Of course, they still have to deliver the goods on the older stuff and they did that all right. Midnight Black, Only Friend, Be Lucky and Take It Back got the crowd bouncing whilst the delicate strains of Smouldering and Chinese Lanterns slowed the pace at appropriate junctures.
TTM is not just Phil Campbell of course, and the rest of the band really does provide the musical support that allows him to lead from the front. Technically, TTM is as good as anything that is around these days, with their combination of The Faces, Stones and Black Crowes style attracting a wide cross section in the audience. Earlier in the year I felt that the band was on the verge of getting almost mainstream appreciation. Now I am convinced of it. Their next album is likely to climb high in the charts and I would not be surprised if the next time we get the opportunity to see them it will be in venues substantially bigger than the O2 Academy. Their end of year tour will be followed by their first venture to the USA, supporting another big favourite of the Musipedia crew, Blackberry Smoke on a tour I would kill to witness. At this stage, the world is there for the taking. Once again, something special and a pleasure to be present. 9/10