Last April, British psych rockers Temples played their first-ever show in Denver. At one point during that set, frontman James Bagshaw asked the audience to stop smoking weed since the smoke was making it difficult for him to sing. However reasonable such a request may have been, it made things exorbitantly awkward.
So awkward, in fact, that when Temples returned to Colorado five months later, the band avoided Denver altogether and played the Fox Theater in Boulder. Despite Boulder’s national reputation for operating at a higher level, the show went off without a hitch and without any further requests to tone down the puff-puff-pass action.
But even smooth sailing in Boulder couldn’t stamp out the slight air of concern Wednesday night at the Bluebird Theater. Would there be enough smoke to create another mega uncomfortable interaction or would everyone be cool?
Everyone was cool. Thanks to either short memories or mutual forgiveness, the audience welcomed Temples with unbridled fervor (and minimal smoke) and the foursome responded with genuine enthusiasm. Bagshaw said the band had missed Denver and sounded like he meant it; bassist Thomas Warmsley thanked the crowd multiple times. The audience expressed their own gratitude and joy by dancing with abandon underneath projections spinning up and down the venue walls.
For all its prismatic appeal, the band’s 2014 debut Sun Structures is old news by now. New material felt in order, especially given that the gig was their third visit to Colorado in thirteen months. While they made something of an effort by playing two new songs – “Volcano/Saviour” and “Henry’s Cake” – their setlist stuck to older material, including familiar B-sides “Ankh” and “Prisms”.
Perhaps it would be easier to criticize Temples’ reluctance to break out of well-trod territory if they didn’t tread that territory so well. Or if “Volcano/Saviour” hadn’t sounded so marvelous. Or if “Ankh”, a track ancient by pop standards, hadn’t been a transcendent experience. Sun Structures, a massive record by psych rock standards, swells to an even more enormous creature when played live and jammed out. To their credit, the audience helped this expansion along by clapping in time with “A Question Isn’t Answered” and singing their hearts out during “Mesmerise”.
Temples naturally came back for seconds. Someone tossed roses onto the stage as the foursome plunged into the final song of their encore, prompting guitarist Adam Smith to weave one of the flowers through his guitar, finish playing, and then stick it in his hair as he waved goodnight.
And if that’s not the greatest peace offering in live music history, then I don’t know what is.
A Question Isn’t Answered
The Golden Throne
Volcano / Saviour
Colours To Life
Keep In The Dark
Shelter Song (Encore)