The Temperance Movement return to their roots
Our devotion to The Picturebooks maybe gives it away, but we do like a two-piece around here at MV. There’s something slightly unhinged about the need to do such primal things that appeals. Into this space come Naked Six. A young pair from York, Seb Byford (yeah, he is , before you Google it) supplies the mighty licks and Tim Witts thrashes his drums as though they’ve spilt his pint. On their first tour, and with only a couple of singles out, they are raw (duo’s always are but the two that make up NS really are) but are evidently full of potential and talent. “Castaway” with its slow start really let’s itself go by the end. New single “Broken Fairytale” is from their blusey side, “Unwind” on the other hand has the same delicious chaos about it that The Vines managed at their peak. “In Your Head” is fun and there is every reason to suspect that there’ll be plenty of people trying to explain why “Naked Six” appears in their search history in the months and years to come.
Texts from my brother usually revolve around two things. Most often Stoke City will have done something to piss us off that needs discussion, while there’s usually one on a Friday to see what time we are going to meet to go and watch Stoke City so we can get pissed off all over again. It came as a bit of a surprise, then, to get one from him about five years ago to say he’d been listening to Planet Rock, and heard a band that he thought I’d like and furthermore they were playing Birmingham and we should go.
The song was called “Only Friend” and the band, The Temperance Movement, played The Hare And Hounds one Sunday night in 2013 and it was incendiary. They were a band who you just knew you were never going to see in a venue like that again. Later that year, they had an album at number 12 in the charts (a genuine classic too) and were selling out the 2000 capacity venue up the road.
Which is precisely why seeing them here feels like seeing them start again. It turns out they want to play venues like that again. Touring just because they haven’t for ages, it seems, ahead of a major tour at the end of the winter to coincide with their new record.
The Newhampton Arts Centre is packed as the band – now with new drummer Simon Lea behind the kit – take to the stage with “Caught In The Middle”, one of a huge dollop of new songs they play – and really, where better to try them out than with 200 of your fans.
On first listen, rather like this run of shows, the tunes from “A Deeper Cut” seem to be a return to their roots. “The Way It Was And The Way It Is Now” is heavy blues, “Higher Than The Sun” is mid-paced, “Another Spiral” appears to be its centrepiece, and is turned into a jam here with a gorgeous solo from Paul Sayer. The title track too is a classy affair, fragile to start with, as energetic frontman Phil Campbell (who dances with all the grace of your drunk Auntie at a wedding, but carries the band with a real charm) returns to his singer/songwriter days, but bursts into life and “Built In Forgetter” has a Southern Rock side that touches on country.
Playing so many songs no one has heard of is a bold move, but they cleverly intersperse these with some old songs and “Only Friend”, “Pride”, a stomping “Take It Back” and the closing pair “Ain’t No Telling” and an absolutely electric version of “Midnight Black” show just how superb those songs are, as well as ensuring that there is a special atmosphere here.
The encore is in keeping with the vibe too. “Backwater Zoo” – another new one – is as loose-limbed as The Stones at their Sticky Fingers stage, while “Battle Lines” from the second album “White Bear” is delivered with a stoic passion that says: “we’re coming again and you’d best make room.”
Whether they take their rightful place as the Kings of British classic rock remains to be seen (our money is on yes), but it is fairly clear that there’s already a contender for album of the year 2018. That’s for the future, the present is about this. The Temperance Movement are back.