The Temper Trap, Somerset House, London
Wednesday 14 July 2010
At venues as beautiful as Somerset House, there is an unwritten rule: any band that sets foot onstage should give a performance to match the magnificence of their surroundings. Having conquered the charts and critics' hearts worldwide with their indie-pop debut, Conditions, Melbourne quartet The Temper Trap attract an excited crowd to their sold-out gig in the cobbled open-air square.
An opener with lyrics mostly composed of "Ooo baby" and "Ooo lady" could easily lack credibility within these cultured walls. But with frontman Dougy Mandagi's exceptional and diverse falsetto, "Rest" becomes an exciting signal of great things to come.
Greeting the crowd in his signature high pitch, Mandagi welcomes "all these sexy faces" to the show before launching into the summer festival anthem "Fader". It's the perfect complement to the last of the evening's sunshine. The lads soon show they can do moody just as well as they do cheery with the new track "Rabbit Hole", which showcases the band's swelling atmospheric sound-layering and heady climaxes.
Thoughts wander to whether they've peaked too soon when an extended instrumental slowly reveals the radio favourite "Love Lost", but the gentle poignancy of "Soldier On" more than reassures the crowd. Soon, Mandagi is pouring water over his drum, and pounding the skins so hard that sparkling droplets splash over his head into the intense strobe lighting, while bassist Jonathan Aherne windmills around the stage. It may be a formula they have repeated at performances across the world, but the foursome perform tonight as if it were the first time, and to epic effect.
Sadly, a faultless performance is blighted by technical issues in the encore (Mandagi is blissfully unaware that his mic isn't working for half a song), but despite that, and just when the crowd thought the performance couldn't get any better, the encore concludes with a soaring "Sweet Disposition".
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