The Rock Band The Eagles Always Wanted To Be
There’s a scene in the recent Eagles documentary where a key point in the band’s rise to stardom is plotted as the moment producer Glyn Jones heard them singing a cappella harmony and decided that this was the sound to define them as a band. Up to that point he hadn’t been overly keen on their rock aspirations, and the fact they never became an ostensibly rock band is apparently a fact Glenn Frey and Don Henley rue to this day.
At tonight’s outstanding The Temperance Movement gig at the Cavern , Exeter, there was a moment where the band went ‘off mic’ to sing their song Chinese Lanterns and the five part [with one guitar] a cappella harmony was as exquisite as anything the Eagles can do, and yet this occurred within the context of the band’s absolutely stonking rock-core performance. Indeed, the band happily cited influences such as Little Feet, The Allman Brothers and The Rolling Stones – and my goodness they have the credentials and talent to write and perform songs bearing those influences with panache – and yet I also heard the harmonies of the Eagles and America to name but two obvious echoes.
I had wondered before hearing them live if there would be a guitar focus too. Their excellent EP Pride obviously features the fine work of Luke Potashnick and Paul Sayer, but not the kind of soloing you might get played live. I’m still buzzing with the delight to observe that the band’s individual and dual guitar work is stunning. There was plenty of slide as well as sharp playing from both, but on the slow number Smouldering, Luke and Paul played an extended and deeply layered guitar duet that reminded of the very best of the past when such breaks were expected as well as lauded from the great rock bands of the 60s/70s.
Fronted by Glaswegian ‘spokesperson’ [his jest], but more importantly exceptional vocalist Phil Campbell, The Temperance Movement played a stunning set in, as Paul rightly described it, the ‘classic’ small but atmospheric Cavern venue where such a performance resonates because of that size but also the history and vibe inherent in such an environment. Campbell’s singing is itself ‘classic’ when heard on record/cd, but he can certainly deliver and sustain this live, moving effortlessly and emotively between ballads and rock stormers. Nick Fyffe’s bass and Damon Wilson’s drumming are integral parts of the consummate tightness of the band as a whole, and as already stated, all members can and do contribute beautiful vocal harmonising. For any regular readers of this blog who know I love ‘pretty’ music as well as hard-core guitar rock, you’ll understand my genuine reverie at the combination of this and more with this band.
They certainly deserve their own much bigger stardom and success in the near future. With their first album due out in September, and the continued support of Planet Rock, one would hope this will happen. I certainly feel the retro-rock tag is inappropriate for The Temperance Movement who displayed for me in this gig more breadth and sense of self than that label can embrace. But I also know how my listening habits – and, let’s be honest, my age – also define a certain audience for the band which won’t provide the platform they need for a genuinely expansive appeal. Perhaps that doesn’t matter. As I said, the band seems content with and enthused by the influences that shape their sound, accepting the lineage and its roots.
And if I could exploit that sense of being rooted, to a degree, in the past, I’d urge them to bring out a live album as soon as possible! Having invoked The Allman Brothers Band who brought out At Filmore East three years into their career, perhaps TTM could resurrect this once quite common tradition from rock’s heyday. I’d certainly love to have a recording of tonight’s gig or similar as it was one of the best I have attended in a long time of enjoying live music.
You can buy various versions of The Temperance Movement’s EP Pride here. Recommended.