The Temperance Movement, with support from Steve McRorie, at Ironworks, Inverness.
Steve McRorie is familiar to many as a former winner of The Voice and he does quickly plead with us, ‘don’t hold that against me’. And the thing is that is kind of difficult not to hold it against him. My thoughts when I saw ‘former winner of The Voice’ were something along the lines of, ‘oh great, here we go yet another warbly, reedy-voiced singer songwriter with a bucketload of angst and sod all life experience, Ed Sheeran lite if you will’. Wrong!
The fireman turned musician who still happens to be a fireman is unsurprisingly quite good at writing fiery songs and ‘Burn Out’ is as impassioned as it is feisty. He’s also happy to make light of his experiences on the voice, “I only went on to see if I could win £100 and I ended up winning it’, he nods at the relatively low turnout so far and quips, ‘as you can see it’s working out well for me’. As it happens he’s actually very good at what he does and a nice bloke with it. So that sorts me and my cynicism out then. The bastard.
It is however a pity that shows like this appear to strip an artist of their credibility. The cynical and fickle nature of the pop market today means that musicians are churned out and dropped without out any care or desire to nurture talent. Arguably twas ever thus, but it just seems worse nowadays. He’s a bloody good singer though and crafts good tunes, here’s hoping that things work out.
The Temperance Movement are here as part of a billed acoustic tour, although the presence of big amps, an electric guitar and bass gives the immediate impression that this is ‘acoustic’ on their terms and to hell with convention. I’m pretty certain this won’t be a genteel folky evening…
And I’m mostly right, Phil Campbell casts a wry look over the assembled instruments and does admit that ‘acoustic’ is stretching it a little. ‘We’re just having fun’ he announces and he hopes we do too. Stripped back (just a little) you get a flavour for the quality of the songwriting and tunes like ‘Pride’ sound superb. They’re not shy of rocking out a little and despite the majority of the band being perched on stools, they do manage to keep the tempo reasonably upbeat throughout.
Surprise of the night is a cover of Blur’s ‘Tender is the Night’ which is damned excellent. I’m a big fan of Blur but The Temperance Movement make this their own. There’s a couple of new songs given an airing and of these ‘Empty Rainbows’ is a highlight. Phil Campbell flits between the acoustic guitar and piano and seems equally at ease with these as he is posturing on his own in front of the mic. I heard someone exclaim (and it’s not the first or last time anyone has said it) that he was a cross between Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart. I’ll disagree with the latter; I can’t be doing with the raspy voiced master of mullets, but there is a definite Jagger swagger when the dance moves come out!
The Southern Rock influences are clear and some songs sound like they’d sit more than comfortably in the Black Crowes or even The Eagles back catalogues. I’ve seen the Temperance Movement a number of times now and their live show has always impressed me but this was a little bit more special. It was an intimate gig and a side of the band I’d be more than happy to see again.