It’s Sunday night in Birmingham and Kettering’s Temples are playing the nearest thing to a hometown gig on this current tour, which is in support of excellent new album Volcano, released just a couple of weeks back.
First up, though, are Creatures. Alas, the sea of Siouxsie & The Banshees fans who have turned out to support Siouxsie and Budgie’s well-loved ‘other’ band are disappointed as Creatures turns out to be another outfit entirely. Well, perhaps there is no army of Banshees fans, but if there was they may have enjoyed the B52s-meets-Spector sounds of these ‘new’ Creatures. The tunes are in plentiful supply and the band go down really well in the already well-populated room.
Temples are a band that come with a complete aesthetic: the visuals, both on stage and in the artwork to their records are very strong and complement the music perfectly. Prisms of white light emanate from the stage as the band take their places to the strains of a repetitive drum machine rhythm which they turn into ‘All Join In’ from the new album. It eases the crowd in fairly gently before arguably the band’s greatest song, ‘Colours To Life’ is dispensed with by just the second offering of the set. In keeping with the previously mentioned strong visuals, the stage lights turn from monochrome to technicolor to highlight the song, which was Temples’ second single back in 2013.
When the band first appeared in 2012 with the Byrds-y pop nugget of ‘Shelter Song’, they were already a formidable live outfit. However, the Temples of 2017 is a band seemingly far more at ease with being on the big stage, frontman James Bagshaw happily engaging in chat with the crowd where perhaps he would have been more reticent in the early days; he even initiates the crowd to accompany ‘(I Wanna Be Your) Mirror’ with handclaps later on.
‘Roman Godlike Man’ has the feel of The Kinks‘ (or The Jam‘s) ‘David Watts’, while current single ‘Certainty’ has killer hooks and is greeted like an old friend by the vociferous audience. Bassist Tom Walmsley (a founding member with Bagshaw) and guitarist Adam Smith both cleverly manage to combine playing their ‘main’ instruments with additional keyboards, which are so integral to the sound of Temples. Walmsley introduces ‘Mystery Of Pop’ and provides a glorious bass line for the up-tempo track which surely has a good chance of being a future single.
The new Volcano songs slightly outnumber those from its predecessor, 2014’s Sun Structures (by eight to seven), but they are as warmly received as those from the lauded debut.
Former single ‘Mesmerise’ is performed in a muscular version, complete with extended outro, while ‘Strange Or Be Forgotten’ ends the main set on a high. The crowd shout loudly for an encore though, and are rewarded with a couple from Sun Structures: ‘A Question Isn’t Answered’ and of course, the sublime ‘Shelter Song’.
Volcano may not quite have got the Top 10 album chart hit that Sun Structures did three years ago, but Temples very much sound like a band at the peak of their powers. The venues are getting a little larger with each successive tour and on this form, they will continue to do so.
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