You would be forgiven for thinking that you couldn’t possibly have the best night out based on a £15 ticket, but, if you’d been walking past Rock City on the 8th of March that’s exactly what you will have heard. Inside a few of us, in the know, had gathered to see Scottish blues rockers, The Temperance Movement, performing their latest offering as part of the UK leg of their ‘A Deeper Cut’ tour. Deeper Cut being the name of their newly released album (Feb 16th) and already tipped to be another classic. It reached No.6 in the charts in its first week.
Formed in Bishopbriggs, Scotland in 2011 by singer Phil Campbell and guitarists Luke Potashnick and Paul Sayer, the Temperance Movement were joined on bass by ex-Jamiroquai bassist Nick Fyffe and Australian drummer Damon Wilson. They released a 5 song EP entitled ‘Pride’ in 2012 and went on to release a self-named debut album in September the following year.
European tour dates followed including opening for the Rolling Stones, and in America they toured the U.S. with the mighty Blackberry Smoke.
In January 2016, close to the launch of the second album ‘White Bear’, founding member and guitarist Luke Potashnick decided to leave the band. His place being filled by friend and replacement guitarist Matt White. The album was then finished and launched to a growing fan base. Sadly, later that same year, drummer Damon Wilson called time and left to spend time with his family. His place is now filled by outrageous drummer Simon Lea.
Unfortunately, due to roadworks in and around Nottingham, I arrived at the venue as the American support band, Thomas Wynn and the Believers. were just wrapping up their set. All I can say is that if you like country rock that’s full of soul then catch them while they’re in the UK.
The Temperance Movement.
Coming onto the ‘Stripper’ music seemed right for these boys, as they slowly made their way out, the lighting dimmed in a suggestive manner.
OK I’ll cover this now; there has been a lot of negativity flying around regarding the lighting of previous shows and the need for a decent lighting technician. Reviews and social media have been thick with how bad it’s been reporting about watching a band of silhouettes and, in some places, fans leaving shows because of reactions to the lighting plan. I did check a couple of video’s and had a few friends warn me up front of how hard the show is to photograph.
I think the band have listened, I thought the light show was outstanding throughout the night. Yes, we did have solid blocks of colour, the obvious red, green and blue, we did have backlighting and it was bright, but I have seen a lot worse. The first 3 songs you kinda expect to be tricky, why make it easy for the togs in front of the fans, trying to take amazing pictures to promote the amazing band their covering. A ‘tog v lighting tech’ game, but after that three the lighting usually does, and did, get a whole lot better.
In fact, Campbell did a shout out to the lighting guy, Will Smith, and there wasn’t anything but cheers for him!
Right that’s that dealt with.
The Stripper music dies and red is the stage colour. Guitars strike up with the distinctive staccato rift of ‘Caught in The Middle’. Campbell dances off to the right of the microphone.
Arms and legs flailing like a champion dad dancer at his daughter’s wedding. He slowly makes his way to the mic, firm grip and the words start to flow, exactly as the lighting illuminates this charismatic frontman. Pulling faces and eyes closed, his rasping voice has got the crowd bouncing, singing along to his every word.
With flowered shirt and Mod haircut, he looks like a young Paul Weller with the voice of Joe Cocker or is it Paulo Nutini, throw in Janis Joplin and Mick Jagger and you get the idea of how this voice sounds. Amazing.
The lights dim for the chorus but again Campbell is illuminated for the subsequent verses as they play out. Arms spinning in big windmills and legs stomping, each line is delivered with the precision of a scalpel.
‘The way it was and the way it is’ follows, Campbell is in full swing already, holding onto the mic he delivers, eyes now often closed, gripping the mic as he dances around, not standing still for a moment, Sayers and Whites guitars cutting through as they thrash out the melody. Campbell’s left hand at times, covering his mouth with his energetic dance moves shows the bumble bee tattoo, his wife having the same tattoo on her right hand.
Next up we have Thomas Wynn and his sibling Olivia joining the band on stage to provide backing vocals to ‘Love and Devotion’. Again, a distinctive guitar intro has this human dynamo throwing shapes centre stage. Right on cue he’s on it again gripping the mic as his growling voice smashes through the venue. Thomas and Olivia providing the chorus vocals, Thomas has a quick play with his phone, was it a picture? Was it a tweet? Olivia has sleeves of colourful tattoos, the trend on today’s girls.
It was no surprise that the fourth song was again from ‘A Deeper Cut’, the slower ‘Higher than the Sun’, a cracking song that allowed Campbell to show off his amazing talent, sounding a lot like the great Frankie Miller at times, this song showed just how well Campbell can control the crowd.
‘Be Lucky’ and ‘Ain’t No Telling’ from the debut album, The Temperance Movement, followed, these oldies gave the fans something more familiar before ‘Another Spiral’, yet another from A Deeper Cut, assaulted our ears. Next followed three songs from the second album White Bear, they being ‘White Bear”, ‘Three Bulleits’ (spelt that way; ed) and ‘Battle Lines’. ‘Know for Sure’ from the first album follows then another two from the latest, these being ‘Built in Forgetter’, which has the crowd ‘Wow-Wowing’ and “The Wonders We’ve Seen’. The toe tapping ‘Only Friend’ follows from the debut album, this has the crowd singing along as the set ends with ‘A Deeper Cut’ from the so named called third album.
This sees Campbell don an acoustic guitar for this slow ballad, again demonstrating this guy’s amazing voice as he stands and sings this cracker of a song. Sayer, playing alongside, smiles as the crowd start to sing the words back swaying back and forth as they do.
And that’s it, the band exit the stage, momentarily.
During this interval, a piano has been moved to centre stage, and before too long Campbell and the band are back. Settling down behind the keyboard, he starts into ‘Backwater Zoo’ from the new album. ‘I would give you all the tea in China’ he sings, sounding for all the world like the 68-year-old Frankie Miller in his heyday. Pulling faces, dancing in his seat, standing up head flicking back and forth, he smashes out this new song, his voice rasping with a deliciousness that has the crowd cheering for more. And more they get. The night is finished off with the anthem that is ‘Midnight Black’. That’s it, touch paper has been lit and the crowd goes mad. Everyone is now singing and dancing. What a great song to finish the night off.
The Temperance Movement, are a very visual band. The acrobatics of Campbell must be seen, this man goes all the way to 11. The passion of the band live, takes the studio albums to another level. You can clearly see the band have had a great night, a fact that Campbell shouts out to the gathered crowd; and so, the night ends.
An evening of great Scottish Blues Rock has finished. The night has featured songs from all three albums, crowd favourites to songs from the latest album and has been nothing short of awesome. How Campbell has the energy to give 90 minutes of high octane, adrenalin filled entertainment such as he’s just done leaves you bewildered. His daily calorie count must be phenomenal.
Catch them at Download this Summer or at any of the European dates later this year.
Now where’s my passport, June 8th Madrid seems a decent venue to catch them again?
Words and photo’s: Manny Manson.