Live Review: Temples at Newcastle Reds Bar, Northumbria University – 12th October 2013

By on Wednesday, 23rd October 2013 at 2:00 pm

Teddy boys, punks, goths, metal heads, ravers… the desire of humans to conform to a pre-existing group, and to display that choice through their choice of clothing, haircut, piercings, tattoos and other personal paraphernalia, must be a source of constant fascination to sociologists. Perhaps it’s a modern expression of a primal flocking instinct: the concept of “strength in numbers” expressed through an agglomeration of pop culture-derived behaviours.

Quite how an individual comes to choose a particular group isn’t clear. It may be a response to conditioning, either positive or negative – perhaps a rebellion against overly authoritarian parenting, or in tribute to a particularly charismatic performer. Elvis Presley is no doubt responsible for more bequiffed foreheads than anyone else. What unites all the groupings mentioned above is that they primarily take their inspiration from a particular genre of music, indeed the music and the fashion are irredeemably intertwined; neither could exist without the other. A perfect symbiosis of visual and sonic aesthetics.

Which brings us to Temples, a band who wear their influences on their sleeve with a rare devotion. It’s no secret that they covet psychedelia, but there’s a root of glam rock contributing a much-needed weight to the sound, ensuring there’s never any risk of floating away on a cloud of paisley incense. Previous single ‘Colours to Life’ is a case in point: the lead track is a dreamy patchwork of twelve-string guitar and lazy vocals set well back in the mix, drifting into the brain with no effort at all.

B-side ‘Ankh’ is a much more assertive affair; there’s a big bassline, fantastic ’70s snare action, and an enormous synth-led chorus. Properly uplifting stuff, and far more than a simple “psychedelic” tag would lead you to expect. Latest single ‘Keep in the Dark’ unashamedly harks back to classic ’60s psych-pop, with a hint of ‘Emily’-era Pink Floyd, but the marching rhythm section from before keeps things moving nicely.

Lead singer James Bagshaw is himself a one-man tribute act: he’s wearing his mum’s 1971 polyester blouse in lipstick red with gold threads running through it, an admirably tight perm, and dabs of glitter on both cheeks, all adorning his etiolated frame. In other words, the very essence of glam chic. For all those here who missed the ’60s the first time round (er… that’ll be all of them, then) this is a useful demonstration of how ’60s psychedelia transformed into ’70s glam.

And even now, their sound is still fresh. Yes, there’s a revival of interest in anything psychedelic at the moment, which doesn’t harm their cause, but even without that, the quality of their songwriting would stand out. And the popularity of psych means that, if there’s never been a gang for you, one more just got added to the list. It just might be your thing.

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2:00 pm
23rd October 2013

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