A lot has transpired in the world of The Temperance Movement since I last caught them live here at The Waterfront in Norwich two or so years ago. Live, there has been a headline tour or two, prestigious slots supporting The Rolling Stones, and successful appearances at festivals such as Download and Ramblin' Man Fair. They have lost a key member and they have released a spectacular follow up to their magnificent 2013 self-titled debut album. Busy times indeed as the band continue to take plaudits and make fans as they begin a lengthy tour in support of new album 'White Bear'.
Tonight's show in a bitterly cold Norwich is night two of the tour, the band having kicked things off last night in Portsmouth. Last time around the band had The Graveltones supporting and there is an equally high calibre opening band along for this tour. As Canadians The Sheepdogs take to the stage, the venue is already bulging at the seams. Tonight's date is completely sold out and most people have arrived early to witness what promises to be a splendid evening of rock and roll.
I suspect that a good reason for the venue being packed from the beginning tonight is that some of the good folks of Norwich are already familiar with the work of The Sheepdogs. I however hold my hands up as uninitiated with their now ten year old career. As their performance gets underway I ask myself how it's taken this long for me to discover this great band. With a number of albums to draw from, the band aren't lacking in material and as such they get longer than the regular half hour opening set. In fact they put in a solid forty-five minutes of foot stomping rockers to get the crowd warmed up.
The band are so good tonight that I find myself asking whether our headliners will be able to reach the same level. Songs such as 'Southern Dreaming' please their fans and win over a horde of new followers as the band finish off their time on stage in style. As the band walk off the stage the venue erupts with appreciation for what has been a sublime start to the evening.
Our headliners tonight, The Temperance Movement, burst onto the classic rock scene back in 2012 and set the standard high with the following years self-titled debut album. As I mentioned previously that album brought about high profile tours and shows and established the group as a high quality proposition both live and on record. As the size of venues the band has played has grown, so the pressure on the band to follow up with a top drawer second album has also grown.
Album number two has taken it's time to arrive; especially given they were able to air 'Battle Lines' from it back in June 2014 at Download Festival. Matters weren't helped either by the exit of founding member, guitarist Luke Potashnick. The band though has answered any questions with the release of 'White Bear'. The album demonstrates an expansion of the sound of their debut and shows their determination to explore the possibilities of their collaboration.
The show tonight starts off with a couple of new tracks in 'Three Bulleits' and 'Oh Lorraine', which goes to prove the confidence the band has in their new album. Old favourite 'Midnight Black' then really gets the evening going and downplays any fears of their performance not living up to The Sheepdogs'. 'Be Lucky' and 'Modern Massacre' follow as the band continue a set that sees them switch between their two albums.
Frontman Phil Campbell is still the epicentre of the bands live shows as he pumps up the audience whilst serenading them with his powerful voice. Halfway through the show however sound issues start to interfere with both his mic and guitarist Paul Sayers' guitar and from my position in the crowd it becomes quite difficult to hear them properly. This issue may have ruined a show by a band of lesser talent but even through these issues they put in a great performance.
As the main set draws to a close the likes of 'Only Friend' and 'Take It Back' delight the crowd before the aforementioned 'Battle Lines' ends proceedings on a high. With cries of more from the crowd the band return for an encore of two more new numbers 'I Hope I'm Not Losing My Mind' and 'A Pleasant Peace I Feel'.
Beginning and ending the show with new songs really does evidence the faith the band have in 'White Bear'. Its faith well placed if you ask me and if the band continue along this trajectory then I can see only great things in their future. As for The Sheepdogs, they are no longer just North America's secret and with performances such as tonight's they will surely reap the rewards our country has to offer.