I headed back to the Riverside for my last show of the year, and what a year it’s been for the revived venue. 2014 they teamed up with the guys behind Think Tank, a small refurbishment and some good promotion later Interpol would re-launch the venue in style. Since then there has been a steady stream of credible international acts, Stephen Malkmus, Soulfly, Brian Jonestown to name a few.
I’ve been very lucky to attend most of the shows there this year and I’ve watched it evolve and with each show the both the sound and lighting get better and better. Great venue with some friendly staff, truly a well needed breath of fresh air in the Newcastle music scene. Tonight they play host to Northamptonshire 60s throwbacks; Temples. I’m tipped that this band are one to check out. So it’s time to brave the cold and drunken Christmas party revellers! Let’s see what they’ve got. It’s a very near sellout by the looks of it.
Superfood take the main supporting slot tonight and they are very worthy of a mention. I made sure I got down early to catch this rowdy lot from Birmingham. I’ve came across their name a few times in the press and it’s all been very positive, however I’d yet to hear their music so I was intrigued to see what they sounded like. For me, nothing beats the experience of music in a live setting, so what better way to find out if they live up to the hype.
Serving up some really nice grooves with pop tinges, danceable hooks. At times they reminded be of the underrated Supergrass, with occasional hints of classic The Cure. When they cut loose they deliver a psychedelic Brit-Pop kick! Highly enjoyable. Some pretty epic sounds towards the end ‘Satellite’ proved a highlight of the set for me. A very versatile band, no doubt they have gained a fair amount of new fans on this tour.
So on to the main act…
Noel Gallagher recommends them, but please don’t let that put you off. Singer James Bagshaw with his cool afro really reminded me of a a young Jack Bruce. A pair of overhead projectors and some colourful gels add a kaleidoscope/lava lamp hippy vibe to the backdrop. The crowd seemed to adore this, iPhones snapping away at the trippy colours on display. Certainly was fun to photo, although the photo pit was really busy tonight which made things a bit trickier. Retro 60s vibes all round tonight!
They offer us really tight groovy, yet slow and meandering songs, which drag you along in their spell. ‘The Golden Throne’ was the first track that stood up and grabbed my attention. Some ultra cool retro effects, almost surf at times and a rather lovely vibrato effect bouncing around the venue to a see of bobbing heads. There’s quite a few influences in there, lots of 60s of course, they feel like a pop version of Cream, with a sprinkle of Johnny Marr and some 80s indie popping up from time to time. Pleasant, yet not quite mind blowing, to begin with the crowd seemed to reservedly enjoy it, but the enthusiasm picked up more and more as the band blasted through song after song. The momentum kept building and building. Towards the end they really turned it around and won me over.
The only criticism I can make is the vocals, and I’m aware that this is most likely just my personal opinion. The lead singer hits the notes and draws the gaze of the audience, however the vocals seemed a little nasal and weak to me, and it wasn’t the sound mix to blame. Listening to their recent album there’s clearly a lot of studio sheen added along with dollops of tasty reverb. Maybe they need more harmony parts, that would give the vocals a bit more depth. I can’t help but feel if he had a but more growl the music would be all the more intense. Is that me being picky? I think so. Give the lad a few years of wailing and he may be able to muster a deeper more charismatic tone.
A pleasant evening of tunes, attendees certainly made the right choice when comparing to other shows on offer around Newcastle tonight. My band of the night is most certainly Superfood! Well done to Temples for putting on a great bill.
Reviewer and photographer: Graeme Baty