Last night (August 9) at the Fox Cabaret, British psych rock band Temples transported the audience into a euphoric dimension as they performed a set driven by brilliant musicality.
Emerald stage lights immediately set the tone, bathing the room in a mind-bending haze as the Kettering, UK four-piece took the stage and descended into "Colours to Life" from their 2014 debut, Sun Structures. Diamond-shaped screens lining the very back of the stage lit up in candy hues and pulsed harmoniously to the mystical jangle. The lights, playing along with song tempos throughout the entire length of the show, added to the evening's cinematic vibe.
Musically, the band were impressively tight. "Certainty" and "Mystery of Pop," from this year's Volcano, were bright and dynamic in arrangement and delivery, while extended instrumental jams on "Move with the Season" and "Mesmerise" further showcased that one of Temples' biggest strengths is their dexterity. Keyboardist Adam Smith, with his guitar slung over his shoulder and sometimes with a pick in his teeth, moved seamlessly between his two instruments; drummer Samuel Toms consistently delivered reverberating thumps; and bassist Thomas Walmsley anchored floating melodies.
It was most difficult to take eyes off of lead singer James Bagshaw, though, who — looking as Marc Bolan-esque as ever in a silver-sequinned jacket and head full of lush spirals — switched from six- to 12-string guitars and hypnotized with his spirited falsetto. "How Would You Like to Go" was a highlight, as he stood ominously at the edge of the stage clutching just his microphone, then moved back to pick up his piece and strike out howling riffs.
The crowd was totally enthralled, sometimes moshing, always swaying, arms stretched out to reach the music. There was, however, one annoying agitator in the thick who shouted gibberish at the band in between songs. Bagshaw, to his credit, never flinched or lost focus — save for the encore, when he raised his glass and toasted to the hecklers before slipping into a sublime rendition of "A Question Isn't Answered." The set then finished with "Shelter Song," the kaleidoscopic stomp that catapulted Temples into the spotlight back in 2012.
In a testament to the way Temples masterfully navigated the energy of their live show, the atmosphere remained feel-good as the haze lifted and the band departed. But it wasn't for the warmth of nostalgia; while Temples' roots are indeed planted in vintage psychedelia, they never feel sentimental. Instead, their remarkable musical adroitness and pop sensibilities transcended their influences to create a unique experience that continues to prove they've got the chops to remain in it for the long haul.