It’s Independent Venue Week and Temples have chosen one of the very best, Birmingham’s Castle & Falcon, to begin a short tour in its honour.
They’ve brought along Zo Lief, a duo made up of Laura Chen and James Attwood, and it’s a big day for them, both releasing their debut single, ‘Fool’, and beginning the run with Temples on this February Wednesday. Their sound shows some of the psychedelic leanings of the headliners, (they’ve been in the studio with that band’s James Bagshaw as producer, the single being the first fruits of their collaboration), but they have plenty of their own identity too. The songs are strong even on first listen and they are very well received by an already big crowd. Fans of Camera Obscura and Pure Bathing Culture would do well to keep Zo Lief on their radar.
There’s probably an expectation amongst the audience here that tonight is a showcase for Temples upcoming fourth album Exotico (due in April), and while that would have been fine, opening with their greatest song (well, my favourite!) ‘Colours To Life’ , the evening quickly takes on a celebratory feel, especially as it’s followed by another old single, ‘Certainty’. The band seem genuinely delighted to be here, Bagshaw on good form, amused by some good natured heckling and having plenty of interaction with the crowd (he’s a lot more comfortable now with this kind of thing than when I saw the band live in their early days!)
It also has to be said that Temples are extremely good at playing live, the songs often sounding better than their recorded counterparts (debut album Sun Structures suffered a little from over compression, on CD at least, to these ears). Their absence from the live arena for the last 10 months or so is not apparent; they are on blistering form.
‘On Something’ slows the pace a little with its beautifully yearning melancholy, while ‘Keep In The Dark’ is its usual stomping singalong self and is greeted like a returning hero.
“This is brand new, the first time we’ve ever played it live, on a Wednesday night in the Castle & Falcon” says Bagshaw by way of introduction of one of the two new songs, this one being the cosmic brilliance of ‘Gamma Rays’ , the album’s first single and maybe the most instant song the band have ever recorded. It’s been stuck in my head since I played it seventeen times yesterday. We also get ‘Cicada’ from Exotico, but for now, the rest of the album will remain secret.
The band’s last album, Hot Motion got nowhere near the acclaim it deserved when it arrived in 2019, but its title track is delivered in sublime fashion to a huge reaction, as is early single ‘Mesmerise’ which closes the main set. It’s one of those nights when you feel like the band has been on stage for fifteen minutes when over an hour has fled by.
The band return to a vociferous, packed audience to deliver an encore comprising of two debut album favourites, ‘The Golden Throne’ and to finish, the place where they started, debut single ‘Shelter Song’, which still feels like a Number One hit to me.
Temples are one of those bands that seem to exist in their own universe, working on their own terms and over ten years on, they are in great shape. Hopefully Exotico will bring them back to these parts sooner rather than later.