SWX, Bristol - 26/10/2022
On Wednesday 26th October 2022, rising indie-pop, multi-instrumentalist and Silence & Sound fave, Alfie Templeman, made his return to Bristol for his second headline show in the city this year.
Back in March, Alfie headlined Thekla, the night-club situated on Bristol docks, and yes, it's a boat! With just under 400 in attendance, it felt like a really intimate and exciting show, leaving me excited not only for the release of Templeman's debut album, Mellow Moon, (which is out now, and a strong contender for one of my favourite records of 2022), but also to see him occupy some bigger venues in the future. Tonight, he has done just that, headlining Bristol's SWX, a venue with a capacity just shy of two thousand, in support of his euphoric, 80s-induced debut.
This time around, there are two support acts bearing the responsibility of getting the crowd, made up mostly of students, really warmed up and ready to give their all to the Bedford-born teenage indie wonder.
Showing his genuine love for all things new music and showing support for upcoming artists in the position that he was in merely years ago, Alfie launched the opportunity for local bands to apply to open up his shows, with a different first support act in every city. For Bristol, support came from singer-songwriter, Peri Rae, hailing from Cornwall.
In a completely acoustic set, Peri Rae keeps the crowd captivated with her soft, folk tracks with vivd storytelling depicting themes such as their job working in a local coffee shop, and trying to get the attention of a crush at a gig. What completely won me over, however, was their cover of Sam Fender's Hypersonic Missiles, in a moment in which she had the entire audience singing along with her, completely in the palm of their hand. In terms of her performance and the lyrics in their songs, Peri is reminiscent of the likes of dodie and Maisie Peters, making for a beautiful start to the show.
Half an hour later and main support act and Alfie's label mates, L'objectif, are on playing their high energy indie-rock tunes. When he's not playing rhythm guitar, lead singer, Saul Kane, moves around the stage in a manner that mirrors that of Fontaines D.C.'s Grian Chatten, swinging the microphone stand to the side and kneeling down in front of those in the first few rows, and repeatedly gesturing to the crowd. There also seems to have been influence taken from Pulp frontman, Jarvis Cocker, in his stage presence.
The band power through a setlist of post-punk anthems, in a part upbeat, part moody set, that really sets the tone for Alfie and his band's entrance a half hour later. Closing on latest single, The Dance You Sell, the band provide SWX's capacity with a singalong moment, encouraging the crowd to sing along with the "ooh ah ah ooh ah ah oh"s. It's a great close to the set of such a promising young band.
To the delight of the crowd, Alfie Templeman, with a fresh new haircut, takes to the stage accompanied by his long-term collaborators and live band, Jos Shepherd on lead guitar, Adam Philip on drums and Cam Owden on the bass, before going straight into Mellow Moon tracks (that were not featured in the setlist when Alfie was last in Bristol), A Western and You're A Liar. For the first couple of songs, it was hard not to notice the fact that the sound levels were slightly off, however, this was quickly resolved, and there were no further issues.
Throughout the set there's a real nod to the 80s, with infectious pop tunes such as the sonically light and breezy Candy Floss, which tackles much darker themes, track packed with references to influential 2000s indie-rock legends The Strokes, Colour Me Blue, and Tears For Fears inspired Everybody's Gonna Love Somebody. However, the setlist also included some darker moments, in Mellow Moon single, Leaving Today, especially; a track that features changing rhythms and soaring guitars, really showcasing the sheer musical talent that Alfie Templeman possesses and proving him to be so much more than just another indie-pop artist on the rise.
Tonight is probably the liveliest and most energetic Alfie Templeman show that I have attended to date; hits such as 3D Feelings, Obvious Guy and Broken provoke the crowd to jump, arms and drinks in the air and singing along, whereas during older track, Circles, released as part of Templeman's Who I Am EP, a large circle pit down the front is wholly encouraged. This all leads Alfie to address the crowd, crowning them as the best of the tour thus far.
The venue is also a fantastic location for this gig: no matter where you stand within the auditorium, a perfect view of all the action can be achieved, and the lighting on this tour makes for really clear visuals, allowing the crowd to see all members of the band on stage, and ensuring that there are no moments where any members are drowned out in harshly coloured lighting or blanketed in fog.
It's difficult to find any fault in the set; every member of the band is on top form, and there is so much energy shaking the venue tonight - everyone seems to be having the time of their life. The only improvement that could be made to the show is the amount of interaction with the fans in the audience from Alfie, however, this appears to be more of a confidence issue, rather than being a purposeful absence in the set, and I really believe that this is something that will just come with time, as Alfie progresses further in his career.
The setlist is a long one, spanning just over an hour, but it is the perfect blend of songs old and new. The length of the set, however, does not stop the show from going by incredibly quickly (time flies when you're having fun!), and the encore is imminent.
Returning to the stage after quite possibly the quickest exit during an encore I have ever witnessed at a gig, Alfie and the band return to play a softer, predominantly acoustic track, Yellow Flowers, offering a slower and more mellow moment in the show.
Closing on arguably his biggest tune to date, Happiness In Liquid Form, SWX's capacity gives the band one last send off by opening up the pit for a final time. As usual, everyone takes great pleasure in screaming the line "Cowabunga!/I feel younger!" alongside Templeman, who takes his microphone off of the stand, crouches down, and shouts the lyric. It's a moment of pure joy that I absolutely love at every Alfie show.
Back in March, I rounded off my review and interview with Alfie Templeman predicting that Mellow Moon was an album sure to go down very very well in the crowds, once it had been released, and that it was going to take Alfie to new lengths. Tonight, it's clear that the debut album has been embraced with such enthusiasm and delight by Templeman's fans, both old and new, and it can only be assumed that Alfie Templeman is going to be reaching even higher heights in the near future. Who knows? Maybe his music will even take him to the moon.
Mellow Moon, the debut album from Alfie Templeman is out now.
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