I wasn’t going to go to tonight’s gig. I had thought about it but, with tickets already bought for the busiest few weeks of my gig-going “career”, this one hadn’t registered highly enough with me to convince me. Until, that is local troubadour Dan Lucas (you may have seen me enthuse about his work as Boss Caine) mentioned that I would probably like them “ a great deal”. That was good enough for me. The fact that my gig-buddy for the night, Shaun, told me that he had already seen them a few days earlier in Wakefield, been blown away by the performance and was probably going to see them again in Leeds was just icing on the recommendation cake.
Tour support Samuel Taylor, originally from Sheffield, was already on stage when we arrived from the pub, but I think he was still on his first song, so we hadn’t missed much. The former frontman of Dead Like Harry and roadie for Nerina Pallot, who he supported on her 2011 UK tour, has more than a hint of a Dylan-esque nasal tone to his vocals, although Taylor’s are better, less grating. (I’ve never been a big fan of Bob’s voice.) The acoustic guitar and mouth-organ only served to heighten the comparison. His set was comprised of a nice mix of songs – opening slowly before livening things up a bit and then moving on to a a nicely gauged quiet/loud combination. Another of those engaging frontmen, he explained the story behind A Friend And Accomplice – it being inspired by an inscription to a deceased friend in a walking book written by his father – and you could tell that it was a very personal song with the lyrics coming through as highly emotive. A much livelier drinking song followed and then another that was very reminiscent of Dylan before the set ended with its liveliest song, Waiting For Nothing. All too often (although, it has to be said, less so these days) acoustic guitar acts fail to hold my attention. Taylor, though, was different and interesting enough to keep me entertained and provided a nice start to the evening.
When I saw …And The Hangnails a few months back, they did very little for me. Brash and noisy just about summed it up and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to seeing them again. However, the start of their set, slow, quiet and atmospheric, however briefly before the power, noise and shouty vocals came in, grabbed my attention more than I expected it to. Maybe it was the smaller venue, or the more closely-packed crowd (maybe it was even a better soundman) but tonight’s set was a lot more listenable to than last time. I caught hints of 70s blues-rock in the vein of Led Zeppelin (with less subtlety), The Doors and, at one point, Muse. The music was still loud, with frantic, chest-pounding drums and loud vocals. Occasionally, the music gave the impression of a jam-session with odd little guitar snippets being dropped into the main tune. There’s an incredible amount of noise and energy for a two-piece band and I’m not sure whether it was the heat inside Fibbers or just a bit of showboating that led both Martyn and Steven to shed their t-shirts for Fear Only Fear, the last song of the set, but it did get an appropriate reaction from those further forward in the crowd than me. Meet Me By The River, with its more Bluesy feel, remains my favourite song of theirs (and the only one that I can work out the title of) but, despite the set being a bit relentless in its power and a bit too samey overall this was a much better and more entertaining performance than last time.
By the time The Temperance Movement made their way onto stage, Fibbers had filled up nicely and I was getting a similar feeling to when I saw Kodaline here – that of a band that I had only just heard of but who were possibly destined for great things and that, somehow, I’d missed the very beginning of a wave of interest. Initially mixing simple, instantly catchy rhythms with a massive amount of twitchy energy from frontman Phil Campbell – he sang the second song as though somebody was pumping a thousand volts through him – the first impression I got was of The Band. The third song, with it’s harder, heavier sound, saw Campbell producing vocals in style more reminiscent of AC/DC. There was some good-natured heckling from the crowd during a pause between songs had Campbell explaining, “We all shout in Glasgow” before giving us some quite stunning soulful and quiet vocals during Pride, the title track of the band’s EP. One thing that’s evident is that there is no showboating or overblown pomp, but Pride includes a subtle guitar solo which serves to build the song to a brilliant end section which, in turn, leads into Ain’t No Telling, another rockier track in which Campbell returns to his more gravelly vocals. Smouldering was more mellow and subtle with another lovely musical build-up. Unlike some bands, there is very little movement around stage by the guitarists and bass-player, primarily because each one is somewhat tied to a mic for backing vocal duties, but they all still manage to somehow give an impression of movement and a definite feeling that they are having a good time on stage. I don’t think I’ve seen many wider grins than that of Nick Fyffe (bass) and Luke Potashnick (guitar). There’s further evidence that the band are better known than I expected when the audience need little encouragement to sing along during Know For Sure, which segues nicely into the ballad Shine On and more audience participation. Microphones are despatched with entirely for the next song and Campbell, even without amplification, gives a powerfully expressive performance. Trouble returns to the heavy and hard sound, it’s an anthemic sing-along and the closest to grandiose we have got tonight, but it still manages to stay on the right side of overblown.Take It Back sounds like Blues-based Gospel Rock, if that’s even a proper genre “We’re gonna leave you with this one,” said Campbell during it’s introduction, but nobody is fooled and after a short time the band return to the stage to close out a performance lasting just over an hour and give us Serenity, which somehow seems to bring forth a combination of slide and steel guitar sound without either being in evidence.
The Temperance Movement have been described as “Next great rock and roll band”. Dan himself said they are “the best rock ‘n’ roll band in the country at the moment” and Shaun was enthusing about their sound and energy on the way to the gig. I can’t disagree with any of the above. I got the feeling that this is a band on the verge of something which may just bring great rock and roll music back for a new generation, while reminding us oldies of what it used to be like. And with the news that the band have this week signed up with Earache Records and that an album will be released in the Autumn, that “something” might be very close.