1883 Magazine
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When Jimmy Cooper descended on Brighton to the battlefield of Mods and Rockers, he probably didn’t think his image would be projected onto a wall at The Garage in London in 2014. But there he was, sporting that emblem of British subculture, the Laurel Wreath.

It was instinctive for Fred Perry to delve into the British new music scene: the fashion of a nation, and moreover, the fashion of our music. From Mods to skinheads, soul boys to 90s Britpop lads, Fred Perry has groomed them all, setting, and not following, the zeitgeist.

With music the driving force, naturally, Fred Perry has given a stage to the best of new British music, launching Fred Perry Sub-Sonic live; a live music concept in London. Clean Bandit, King Krule, and Tom Vek have all taken to the stage at different London venues, and last week, Temples, Telegram, and The Merrylees blessed our ears, and our fashion conscious eyes.

 

Playing to a sold out venue, six piece The Merrylees were a sea of 60s memorabilia, one-roll-neck-over-the-cuckoos nest. “He was just seventeen, you know what I mean,” chimed in my head – maybe we women knew what McCartney was talking about now. Having recently toured with Paul Weller, the youths are way beyond their years; perfectly mature, and fashioned to within an inch of their lives. Bringing in trumpets over 60s guitar grooves, it felt almost patronising for the old fogies in the crowd.

 

The room was just sweaty enough for Telegram to arrive, and then the sweat would drip, drip, drip, until it poured. The four Anglo-Welsh-lion’s should only be heard live. That is their element – creating “cracked, crepuscular canticles” – according to themselves. This is punk chasing glam, and psych hurtling toward the playhouse. Confidence and conviction can get you everywhere. Each member was a character in a dark theatre production: the humble drummer, the flamboyant guitarist, the emo bassist and the erotic lead. Front man Matt Saunders’ red leather, guy-liner and bone structure amalgamation could only be described as offensive. He would point to the audience, raising his hand religiously above his head, and sing directly to the girl in the corner. Waterfalls.

Colours were then brought to life in a kaleidoscope of, well, glitter, sparkles, and a pink guitar. James Bagshaw, the pied piper of glitter, poised himself perfectly centre stage. Each movement the lead of powdery psych four-piece Temples made was so fragile and gentle; it was almost painful to watch. From the small sweeping of his afro to the side, to his graceful pouted guitar solos – Bagshaw seemed a docile lead, but in reality, he knew exactly what he was doing.

 

Temples have had remarkable year. From playing to a small group of early punters at Barfly, to headlining Shepherds Bush Empire, the bands psych 60s/70s revival touches a small piece of everyone – although many refrain from admitting it. Temples are the band that other bands love to hate, “unoriginal, from the past,” but, bitterness is ugly, and Temples can make a bloody catchy tune.

 

The crowd hummed back the delicious guitar melody in “Sun Structures,” clapped along to “A Question isn’t Answered,” – with musings of some passion from Bagshaw, “come on I can’t hear you,” while “Moves with the Seasons” put the audience into a psychedelic lullaby trance. Melodic bliss you could say, as images of Knights of the Round Table and magic carpet rides stirred –Temples have an alluring concoction, “Mesmerise,” yes, we were hypnotised.

However, we lost sight of that edge, with an over-rehearsed stage presence, and bassist Thomas Warmsley’s “Opium for the people” T-shirt – kitsch or cool? But before you thought the authorities had trampled all over the psych, Temples turned all manifestation of the mind and shredded it out for ten minutes. A 50-year-old mod standing next to me screamed, “yeaaaaa, yeaaaaa,” flittering his fingers into stars, but maybe that said it all.

It was predictable that Temples would play “Shelter Song” for their encore – the track that first resonated with the ears of the nation. I had self-inflicted the overplay, and thought I might feel a bit queasy hearing it again, but, as soon that glittery guitar melody and 60s drum beat kicked in, there was an electric storm – perhaps the perfect end to a voyage of fashion through the ages.

Words by Elspeth Merry
@elspethmerry

For more information about Fred Perry Sub-Sonic Live visit: www.fredperrysubculture.com/sub-sonic-live

Photo credits: Gideon Marshall for Fred Perry Subculture.

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