Tuesday was a special day for many reasons. Firstly, the sun was out. In Glasgow in December that’s a bigger achievement than you might think. Secondly I got to make lots of lovely new friends, and catch up with some old ones. And thirdly, Phil Campbell got to play the final night of The Temperance Movement’s European tour in his home town, in a sold out O2 ABC.
To set the scene, I’m a huge fan of The Temperance Movement. I first heard their debut single Only Friend on radio about eighteen months ago and in that time, including last night I’ve now seen them five times. The friends old and new are all members of a Facebook fan group, The Temperance Movement (Movement) who are the most enthusiastic group of people you’ll ever come across. This band really has brought a lot of people together, and since so many of them had decided to travel to Glasgow for the gig it was a chance for us all to meet up. We took up most of the front row and were able to witness something that’s hard to describe, but just for you, I’m going to try.
First on stage were Medicine Men, a local band playing what I’m sure was their biggest gig to date. They had a bit more of an indie rock feel to their music that perhaps wasn’t what TTM fans are into, but they received a good enough reception from a venue that was already almost full.
A few minutes after nine, with the atmosphere and anticipation building The Temperance Movement finally took to the stage. I was lucky enough to get to speak to singer Phil before the show and he told me that for the past three weeks touring around Europe all he’s had in mind was that he couldn’t wait to get to Glasgow. Everyone’s been talking about it as his homecoming gig, and as it was also the biggest they’d played in the city to date it was a very big deal. It was to be a show that showed off many new tracks, with the second album due next summer, as well as well known and loved tracks from their eponymous debut album. Opener 3 Bullets kicked things off at Olympic record pace, followed by Midnight Black, guaranteed to get the crowd singing and jumping every time. By the time Battle Lines finished and it was time for me to get out of the photo pit and into the crowd Phil was already sweating, bounding around the stage in his own inimitable style, something I’ve never seen anyone else recreate, and don’t expect I ever will. He is totally and utterly free on stage, dancing and singing with abandon.
The first time I saw The Temperance Movement was in September 2013 at Oran Mor, and back then the venues and crowds were small enough that the band could perform Chinese Lanterns with no music at all, just their voices and complete silence from a crowd in awe. It’s not possible now, but the version they played last night, with the crowd singing along like a massive choir was one of those moments that make these gigs so special. Some bands play like a group of individuals, all waiting for their solos to show off, but this band is different. The have that special something, that in the pre-reality TV days we might have called the x factor. There’s a closeness and a synergy that they have that’s completely tangible. New tracks mixed with old throughout the set, and as so many people have been filming and posting videos throughout the tour the crowd was able to sing along with all of them. The show finished with a run of five songs from the first album, beginning with a beautiful rendition of Smouldering before moving into a massive crowd singalong with Know for Sure and Take it Back. By this point things were getting messy. So much jumping, shouting whistling and cheering can take it out of you, and while on stage the bands showed no signs of flagging, in the crowd we were running on pure adrenaline. Guitarist Luke was climbing amps, Phil was dancing like a madman, Paul and Nick were out centre stage playing together and the grin never left drummer Damon’s face the entire gig. We went back into singalong mode for Pride before the show closed with debut single and the track that started us all off on this crazy Temperance Movement rollercoaster, Only Friend. As is now customary, as the band left the stage they were called back with whoa oh oh oh oh oh oh oh, which to the uninitiated is the opening of Know For Sure, and happens at every gig now. One of my new friends was delighted when the first encore track was White Bear, since he was wearing a tshirt with the image of a white bear wearing a tartan scarf just for the occasion. The show closed, having passed in a flash, with a version of Serenity that I don’t mind admitting brought a tear to my eye. I wasn’t the only one either!
If the new tracks I heard last night are anything to go by the second album will be brilliant, with Get Yourself Free and Centrefold particular highlights for me. The Temperance Movement are about to go off to tour America with Blackberry Smoke, so we won’t see them for a while. I have enjoyed few things more over the last year and a half than watching this band develop and grow, and consistently blow my socks off. I wish them every success in the US, but honestly, I hope they come home soon.