With blues rock enjoying something of a revival at the moment, The Borderline in Soho is pretty much fit to bursting tonight as the hordes gather for an evening of good old fashioned rock ‘n roll.
Heading up the bill are up-and-coming British rockers The Temperance Movement, a band that’s managed to amass quite a following in its relatively short time on the scene, having released only a single EP so far (although we’re told there’s a début album in the works!). With a sold-out crowd tonight, expectations are high, and there’s a tangible vein of excitement coursing through the audience as the venue fills.
Led by tousle-haired Jimmy O on guitars and vocals, and backed up by Mikey Sorbello on the drums, Australian duo The Graveltones open the evening’s proceedings. As the two appear onstage, one might be forgiven for expecting a subdued set of angsty love songs, an initial impression dispelled rather abruptly as Mikey starts hammering his kit with all the fury of a young John Bonham, paired by a searing, ferocious guitar and vocal from partner in crime Jimmy.
It’s an easy comparison to liken this lot to The White Stripes; indeed their raw energy and charisma onstage is very reminiscent of the American duo’s early work, although their music veers into somewhat more passionate, and at times far heavier, territory.
Like a musical Batman and Robin, there’s a palpable, intimate synergy between the two that’s actually rather endearing, frequently locking eyes as they throw themselves into their respective performances, clearly captivating the crowd with their spirited, kinetic performance. For a duo they produce an phenomenal amount of sound, so much so that you don’t notice the lack of a bassist or additional guitar at all, and by the end of their set, they’re both dripping in sweat, yet still raring to go.
It’s really quite a sight.
Following a short break, The Temperance Movement hit the stage to a roar of approval with Ain’t No Telling, the opening track from their Pride EP. With a moustache that’d make John Waters proud coupled with a set of pipes that’s not entirely unlike Rod Stewart at times (and I do mean that in a good way), frontman Phil Campbell is the epitome of cool, evidently at home on the stage, writhing and leaping around with all the confidence of a more seasoned star.
His raspy, pitch perfect vocals are delivered with fluid ease, oozing charm and charisma, yet never overpowering the equally vivacious performance of his bandmates, all of whom can’t seem to contain their smiles for what’s obviously a big night for them in this intimate yet jam-packed venue.
Having spoken with guitarist Luke Potashnick and bassist Nick Fyffe in the afternoon, they’d stressed the importance of playing music that they personally love, and it’s clear that their audience has connected with this integrity that shines through so indubitably in their performance, as the band, completed by drummer Damon Wilson and guitarist Paul Sayer, plough through their set.
Their fresh-faced, cheery approach is something refreshing in an age where music has become increasingly introspective and at times rather dour. Of course blues is a genre that’s steeped in a bleak history, but these guys, who seem the proverbial boys next door, have taken a pretty happy-go-lucky road with their sound; a song may start that you’ve never heard before, but by the end, you’re tapping your foot and humming along.
Slowing tempo only occasionally (most notably for the title track of their Pride EP), the majority of the set is an upbeat, stomp-along affair, showcasing the best of the band’s impressive song craftsmanship and infectious melodies. A mid-set rendition of Only Friend seems the biggest hit of the evening; an instantly catchy song with its big singalong chanting chorus, this is soulful blues at its finest, demonstrating a maturity and depth to this young band.
With their youthful energy, artistic honesty and charismatic live performance, The Temperance Movement look set to explode any day now.
I’ve no doubt that every member of the crowd tonight left feeling uplifted by the bands, and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing more of The Temperance Movement this summer when they hit the road to promote their forthcoming album.
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