Teleman began their UK tour for second album Brilliant Sanity in Brighton on Monday night, with an accomplished live set at Concorde 2. It’s a great venue, albeit one that feels like a long way along the seafront from the centre of town on a February evening. Perhaps this accounted for the relatively subdued nature of the crowd, or maybe that the band’s lack of on-stage chat and calmly professional playing style isn’t designed to send an audience headlong into frenzy.
This is a band that clearly take their job seriously. Teleman have written about their practical approach to succeeding as a modern indie band and this is in evidence tonight as they set up their kit themselves and sell merchandise that they’ve designed. I like the thoughtful touch of pre-signing some CDs for those who might not be able to stay at the end to chat to the band and get their signatures. Their matching shirts and minimalist album design evoke a certain art-school aesthetic but their humble approach to making music and touring prevents the band from seeming pretentious.
Teleman make great, contained pop songs that sit together beautifully on two albums with almost no missteps. The band opened their set with a song that wasn’t part of either, ‘Strange Combinations’, a standalone single for Moshi Moshi. It’s one of their best and they go on to fill their set with every song you’d want to hear, the benefit of seeing a band with relatively little material under their belt. Of course, the band members have been making music for years, most notably in Pete & The Pirates, and live they are tight and well-rehearsed.
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The band present their songs to us in a clear light, and if they largely choose not to deviate from the sound and structure of the music on their records, you sense that it’s because it has been carefully considered and crafted with precision. That’s not to say that the songs are clinical or without feeling – each one is hung on Thomas Sanders’ arresting vocal and warmed with emotion. ‘Skeleton Dance’ is charming and playful and many of their songs address small everyday moments, nostalgia, or loving someone. ‘Cristina’, possibly their most well-known song, ends up feeling a little flat in the encore (I would have been tempted to speed it up) but ‘Dusseldorf’ and ‘Glory Hallelujah’ are exultant.
The band seemed to gradually relax throughout their set and the songs gained energy as a result. Although I respect the precision with which they play live, it was when Teleman pushed at the edges of their songs that I was most interested. ‘Travel Song’ was an enthralling highlight, expanded to a fuller sound that allowed everyone playing to sink their teeth in. At the end, Sanders sounded almost relieved, with a quiet “that was fun”. The first night of a tour must always be a little nerve-wracking but I hope that as Teleman continue their journey across the UK they’ll allow themselves to play these songs with that sense of joy which really brings them to life.
Words by Claire Sissons
Picture – DIYMag