It is entirely apt that the birthplace of Robert Stephenson’s Rocket should double up as a destination for rock and roll’s brightest stars. Just 24 hours after local favourites Lisbon had warmed up the Summertime masses, The Temperance Movement returned to Tyneside determined to strengthen their unique bond with a crowd that had long since taken the Anglo-Scots to their hearts.
This was the band’s fourth Newcastle gig inside 16 momentous months and their second since the end of April. A summer of festival firsts and coveted slots opening up for the Rolling Stones had appeared to spell the end of ‘intimate’ TTM shows and this could well have been one of their last.
Because the word is well and truly out where this wonderful act is concerned. This time next year there will be few places on the banks of the Tyne big enough to satisfy the demand for Britain’s fastest rising classic rockers. The Boiler Shop pulled off a coup but rarely has a band been better suited to a venue screaming authenticity, ambition and a keen sense of history.
By the time the headline act appeared, The Union’s Peter Shoulder had already treated his ‘home’ crowd to a tantalising solo set. Taking a break from his ‘day job’ – with Luke Morley back on the Thunder bandwagon and drummer Dave McCluskey touring the US with the Quireboys – the County Durham singer songwriter laid his talent bare in splendid isolation.
Shoulder’s voice has always been a joy to behold but this stripped down performance proved just how compelling it can be. Focusing on debut solo album Feathers And Rain, the denim-clad troubadour fought constant chatter and some alarming feedback to reinforce his reputation as a leader of the UK’s blues rock pack.
Yet not even the peerless Shoulder can keep pace with TTM right now. The band’s unrelenting progress shows no sign of slowing anytime soon with writing for album number two already well underway.
It may be less than a year since their self-titled debut dropped at number 12 on the UK album charts but the clamour for its follow-up is reaching fever pitch. New music has, unsurprisingly, been a feature of 2014 TTM shows but it’s testimony to the enduring quality of more familiar material that Smouldering and Chinese Lanterns were the pick of a slow-burning set. The former, in particular, mesmerised old fans and new with Paul Sayer and Luke Potashnick whipping up a perfect storm.
The harmonious on-stage relationship enjoyed by TTM’s two guitarists must fill frontman Phil Campbell with supreme confidence but if the quirky Scot never looks entirely comfortable facing an expectant crowd then his unmistakeable voice matched Shoulder’s for emotive delivery and convincing passion.
Those looking for an effective antidote to a 10th series of the X Factor found salvation within the four walls of the Boiler Shop. The contrast could hardly be greater and on this evidence the gulf in class between Simon Cowell’s lightweight wannabes and British rock’s bullish standard bearers has never been wider.
Exclusive image courtesy of Gordon Armstrong