10/29/16 – Brighton Music Hall

Curls stuck to his face, Temples frontman James Bagshaw took a moment mid-set to fuss about his “face glue”—a layer of ghostly white makeup that shouted ‘70s glam rock. “This next song is called ‘Move With the Face Glue,’” he said, so unflinching that you may have missed the joke if you were too transfixed by his bushy hair and shiny gold shoes.   

This is the persona that English psych-rock band Temples has come to own: a self-aware nod to the music and fashion of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Nearly everything about Temples—from their jangly sound to their jammed-out live act—feels like the warm crackle of a record on a turntable.

But are they onto something more than just reviving the past?

When we last talked to Bagshaw circa 2013, Temples were getting ready to play their first Boston show at Great Scott after a quick rise to fame in both the U.K. and the States. This time around—three years, one album, and a few tour cycles later—the band played just down the street at Brighton Music Hall to close out their fall U.S. tour. The crowds have gotten bigger and noisier along the way (“You’re a very loud crowd,” Bagshaw told the Brighton audience on Saturday), but Temples have retained their lanky, deadpan demeanor among it all.

With a few crowd members dressed in costume and a fake crow perched atop Temples’ keyboard, it was impossible to forget that it was Halloween weekend. Festive decor aside, Brighton Music Hall felt like a time capsule on Saturday night. Forget the Halloween costumes; bassist Thomas Warmsley donned a sequined black blazer while guitarist/keyboardist Adam Smith brandished an orange Flying V when not hunched over the keys.

The 12-song set was dirtier and heavier than you might expect. Whirling, sometimes growling, melodies from the bass and guitar took the centerpiece over Bagshaw and co’s vocals. Sun Structures’ Move With the Season” and earworm-single “Mesmerise” both earned expansive instrumental outros that felt calculated yet spontaneous at the same time—especially with Bagshaw pinballing across the stage and dropping to his knees, light as a feather.

For the hungry fans in the crowd, Temples previewed a few songs off their new album—due out in March 2017—including zigzagging new single “Certainty” (met with cheers by the crowd). The other new tracks inspired polite head-bobbing, but came and went without a roaring reception.

 

You can’t deny that Temples have honed their live act over the past few years. All of the show’s pieces locked together without a hiccup—cool, deliberate, and safe. Still, we’re left wondering if there’s more to Temples than a throwback to another decade.

It seems we’ll have to wait until next year to find out.

Time Capsule: Temples
PROS
  • Consistent, fast-paced set
  • On-brand style and presence
CONS
  • Although consistent, the show could have used a “wow” moment or two
  • An artistic backdrop or a lightshow would have added to the ambience
8.5Overall Score

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