Review: Temples live @ Leeds Cockpit

Temples onstage at the Electric Ballroom in London, 2013 (Photo: Andy Crossland for Live4ever Media

Temples onstage at the Electric Ballroom in London, 2013 (Photo: Andy Crossland for Live4ever Media

Football fans know the standing joke so we’re paraphrasing slightly here, but so the question goes: Temples are good, but can they do it on a cold Friday night in Leeds?

We’ll come to the answer later.

A word first on Childhood, one of those rare happy moments when a support band threatens to be the highlight of the evening. Part of the new breakthrough of new wave indie bands which came to save us all in 2012 from our Ableton hell along with Palma Violets et al, the Londoners play 80s tinged ‘alternative’ pop, and play it well.

Lead singer Ben Romans-Hopcraft is the epitome of Brit-slacker Zeitgeist, his bandmates making the sort of beach pop jangle that filled up sticky polytechnic dance floors back in the snakebite era. Unaware of them before tonight, we ask him afterwards what their name is; Romans-Hopcraft goes on to say: “I tried to say it during the set but erm…didn’t do it.”

Let’s hope his label bosses aren’t reading this.

Most of the audience, including remarkably, some obvious Dad-son combinations are here for Temples, although neither of their indie rock royalty admirers – Messrs. Marr and Gallagher – are in the crowd tonight. With their début album ‘Sun Structures‘ astutely navigating a line between renaissance pop and hippy psychedelia, the quartet have plenty to feel groovy about, but for half an hour or so, the Mojo is definitely somewhere back in their gnostic home town of Kettering. Such is the audience’s lack of engagement that lead singer James Edward Bagshaw is even moved to comment on it, as well as complaining about always getting hair in his mouth.

In that tepid 30 minutes Temples are somewhere between a tribute band to the sixties and a sixties tribute band, good but not great. And then, just as the point of regretting buying one of the Cockpit’s two pint cups and thinking about some natural relief arrives, something magic happens.

When you peel off some of ‘Sun Structures’ gloss at its core is two songs that encapsulate why all the backwards glances don’t drag it into a creative dead end; here ‘Move With The Season‘ and ‘Colours To Life‘ mark the point at which the band find themselves, each both mesmeric and blissful. In those few minutes Edward Bagshaw seems to halo, evoking the kittenish aura of Marc Bolan and singing like Crosby, Stills and Steve Marriott. Perhaps this amalgam is precisely what he’s aiming for, but it’s also the piece of the jigsaw which, once found, allows Temples to wrap up the rest of the show with the crowd eating out of their chakras.

It’s pretty obvious that the future of music can’t be the past, but the Temples time capsule was – eventually –  as fascinating as it was un-ironic.

And yes, they can do it in Leeds on a cold February night.

(Andy Peterson)

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