Having just seen one of my fave gigs of the year I’m feeling pretty smug and marvelling at a simple twist of fate. It starts, as so many good stories do, with a few quiet beers. I’m sat outside my local beach front venue and bar, Chinnerys, when I notice the sign advertising an upcoming show by The Temperance Movement. Something about the name gets my ‘spidey sense’ tingling and I go home to check them out online.
That’s where I come across the videos for ‘Aint No Telling’ and ‘Only Friend’. Originally meant as little windows into the early workings of a new project they caused something of a word-of-mouth sensation. It’s not hard to see why as both songs are little bombs of rocking rhythm and blues energy, with a lovely vintage feel and sung by an absolute powerhouse of a vocalist in Glaswegian Phil Campbell. A few days later I notice they’ve got themselves onto the Hard Rock Calling bill with Bruce Springsteen. This thing is bigger than I realised, I think, and I vow to be at the Chinnerys show!!
And so here we are. I bowl in a little late but just in time to catch a kind of homecoming set by charismatic gothic rockers Purson. Led with startling confidence by the bewitching Rosalie Cunningham, this five piece inhabit a similar 70’s wyrde Wickerman to many of the UK’s most interesting rock acts, but as imagined by Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman, rather than the usual Hammer Films vibe.
Their powerful, literate songs are coloured by the fabulous duelling guitars of Cunningham and George Hudson and by the atmospheric keys of Sam Shove. Sadly their spell is broken early on during ‘Rocking Horse’ by one hell of a lot of technical hitches, but the crowd are on their side and, despite the anticipation for the headliners, we’re sorry to see them go. Strangely, although three members of the band are from Southend, they had never played here before. I’m sure they’d be welcomed back.
And so onto the main event, and it really does feel like an ‘event’, such is the buzz for The Temperance Movement, a band who, I should point out, have only one five track EP to their name!(It reminds me of when The Quireboys played The Dominion in London before they had released an album, but I digress). I’m not going to run through the songs as a) I don’t know them all and b) it doesn’t matter. The quality is uniformly superb for the whole set. What a debut album they have on their hands here! (They have recently signed to Earache). My reaction, and I’m sure I’m not alone, went something like this – Song 1 – Raised eyebrows and surprise at just how great they promise to be. Song 2 – Shit-eating grin, just loving it. Song 3 – repeating the phrase ‘Holy Shit!‘ over and over again in my head.
The crowd rightly go nuts here for EP opener ‘Ain’t No Telling’ and all the other numbers get an airing (I think!?), but they’re no better than anything else the band strut and storm through tonight. Their mix of classic rock, country and blues has obvious kinship with The Black Crowes, Free and The Rolling Stones, but the songs never sound like mere tributes to the greats of the past, even if vocalist Phil Campbell does cop a few Chris Robinson moves! Such is the confidence of the band they even try an amps off version of ‘Chinese Lantern’, which (eventually) silences the drunks into submission and when all five come to the front of the stage to harmonise the hairs went up on the back of my neck.
A triumph from beginning to end, this is one of those shows I hope I can boast about being at when the band take their rightful place as British rock gods.
Photo Credit: Marie GC Photography