The Temperance Movement Live At London’s Bush Hall, 6th December 2016

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Temperance Movement Band Promo Photo
The Temperance Movement / Shoreditch / Shot by Rob Blackham www.blackhamimages.com /Earache Records

The Temperance Movement selected Bush Hall as an intimate venue for the London date of a tour that showcases highlights from the band’s two successful albums, reworked for the purpose of acoustic live performance. The small, beautiful intimate West London venue proves an excellent choice for a subdued, intimate show that bares all to the audience of the evening.

Chosen by the headliners to open up the evening, The Pearl Harts [5] are a bluesy guitar girl duo from London who seem to be taking their queues from the riff-driven grunge of bands like Soundgarden. Unfortunately, despite their use of really well-executed harmonies, the girl’s bombastic rock’n’roll doesn’t come off as well as it could in a stripped back, acoustic setting, lapsing all too often into samey, repetitive and predictable guitar parts. That said, they’ve learned to build dynamics within their songs well, and their use of percussion is really quite innovative and atmospheric in a few places, particularly on standout track Skeletons Made of Diamonds. It’d be great to see what The Pearl Harts could do if somebody plugged them back in.

Halfway through their set, The Pearl Harts remark that they ‘feel naked’ without a wall of amps to hide behind, and to a certain extent, they sound it. Conversely, The Temperance Movement [9] have put together a setlist that totally reinvents their songs with this acoustic setting in mind, and there’s a feeling that they’ve changed not just the instrumentation, but the very essence of each of the tracks they perform tonight. We’ve been lucky enough to see The Temperance Movement perform their ‘full’ electric set before, and they put on a formidable show, so its no surprise that the band’s acoustic performance is faultlessly tight, with particular credit to their fill-in drummer, who replaced original sticksman Damon Wilson at short notice for this run of shows after he left the band in November. Meanwhile, vocalist Phil Campbell proves he can more than deliver the goods in such a stripped back, intimate live setting, showcasing a rich, throaty voice that is strongly reminiscent of The Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson.

The set consists of a good selection of songs from across both The Temperance Movement’s albums, with a focus on slower, more subdued tracks that lend themselves better to the atmosphere of the venue and the evening, such as Chinese Lanterns and Pride. The band also throw into the mix a few of their more upbeat tracks, reworked for tonight’s audience, placing an emphasis on the country elements of the band’s sound through delicate instrumentation that features pedal steel, slide solos and resonator guitars. Each song is peppered with elegant, high pitched vocal harmonies that owe a lot to the ‘70s rock’n’roll sound of The Eagles and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. There are a series of thank-yous to various members of the band’s team interspersed between songs, and they exude a very sincere sense of gratitude at the chance to perform shows like these to a receptive audience. The resultant atmosphere is a very special one, and we leave the venue with a real sense of a band at the absolute top of their game.

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