Temples @ Bodega, 16/10/2013
You know your band is doing well when you’ve been critically acclaimed by the likes of Noel Gallagher and Johnny Marr before even releasing an album. This is exactly what’s happened to the self-acclaimed ‘glam-psych’ band Temples. Hailing from Kettering, the quartet is made up of James Bagshaw (guitar and vocals), Tom Warmsley (bass), Adam Smith (keyboard) and Sam Toms (drums).
Having just about managed to squeeze into the upstairs of the Bodega, I found the room heaving with characters from all walks of life, from over-excited young hipster teens to chilled grey bearded rockers. All had come to experience a popular psychedelic rock band who’ve only recently hit the music scene.
At exactly 8.45 the band took to the stage. The soft red and blue hues illuminated sprinkles of glitter around James Bagshaw ‘s eyes – a dead ringer for Marc Bolan. He smiled shyly as he picked up his guitar and greeted the audience with optimism, “I hope you guys have some energy!” before the band crashed enthusiastically into the hook laden riffs of Golden Throne.
Unfortunately the audience didn’t appear to have any energy. Perhaps owing to being packed like meat but more likely due to a seemingly uncouth crowd. It wasn’t until the third or fourth song in – the enigmatic Prisms and Colours to Life – that the crowd started to pick up rhythm.
With its constant kaleidoscopic motion of tambourine jingles and melodic keys fused with gritty guitar riffs, Prisms– a song that could be a debut single in its own right (instead of a B-side) – took us on a psychedelic journey evoking a rhythmic patterning of far-Eastern influence . It was followed by the popular Colours to Life, during which the bands spirited energy seemed to create a Pygmalion effect on the crowd as more statues awoke and started to sing along.
Although the audience’s new burst of life had picked up momentum there still seemed to be a certain trepidation holding this unseemly crowd back. Even when Bagshaw claimed, “You can clap along to this one” not many did. But you can’t fault the band on their performance. Their spirit and vigour bounced off each other during the gig, especially when creating prismatic and immersive rhythms that seemed to surge through space creating their own laws of gravity. The ingenuity of synthesising old sounds and yet somehow not sounding lost in time creates a very raw dynamic for the band that will be used to their advantage in attracting large audiences to future sell-out arenas.
Towards the end of their set the band showcased a new song called Move with the Seasons – another groovy number that was enriched by the melodic rise and fall of Bagshaw’s vocals. This was followed by the popular Keep in the Dark which brought a fresh vibrancy to the atmosphere with a greater-number singing along; here you can really sense the T-Rex influence. The catchy psych-pop song interweaved a glam rock feel with fuzzy sounds that created a dark tinge around the edges. The set ended with the song that everyone was waiting for. A song that had thrown Temples into the limelight: Shelter Song, but then something very unusual happened…
Whether it was to entice the rest of the crowd to wake up, or to finish the set with a bang, Bagshaw shouted out to the audience, “You can come up on stage for this one!” Within seconds of the first youngster springing herself up on stage the rest followed in pursuit. The band only managed to play the first verse before a bright light filled up the room, spotlighting down on the disparate crowds. One end of the room contained the manic youngsters encompassing the stage while left at the back of the room, clutching hold of their drinks, were the middle-age rockers left to stand looking bemused and rather unimpressed by the whole fiasco. It was a somewhat bizarre way for the band to finish, given that the half of the crowd smothering them had been far too distant and stubborn to move for the majority of the gig.
After the show I managed to get hold of James Bagshaw and Sam Toms to ask them some questions about their music and live show. Read my interview here.