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REVIEW: Wendy Bevan & Temper Temper: The Pain of Desire

I don't often post gig reviews on here as musical taste is very personal and hard to be objective about, but I recently saw a performance that I can't help but write about. The performer in question is Wendy Bevan, and it was her show 'The Pain of Desire' put on with her band Temper Temper at Spill Festival that made me rifle through my bag in the darkness for a scrap of paper and a pen to start making notes. I didn't dare use my phone or ipad - so silent and transfixed were the audience, seated in the darkness like at a movie screening. And there's a lot about the show that is more theatre and film than gig- it's a combination of so many artforms; Wendy uses her theatrical experience (she's performed with the incredible Punchdrunk) as much as her voice to create a truly unique persona- her stage alter-ego; Olga, a remnant of the Weimar era. Like the silent movie stars who are projected onto the backdrop behind her, Olga doesn't need a script to put her character across- it's all mad eyes and twitching torso like Alla Nazimova's Salome. Her lyrics conjure up the atmosphere of another era; one giddy with glamour and showbusiness but also steeped in the darkness of torrid affairs, addictions and tragedy.

'Daylight spoils at the thought of it

Cold water boils at the thought of it

I'm drowning in the day'

Wendy is completely mesmerising; decked with bangles from her wrists to her elbows, mad Helena Bonham Carter hair and a sweeping gown; as a stylist I know that this is the sort of look most musicians save for photoshoots as it would be too uncomfortable on stage. But Wendy is obviously in her element- she was made for this sort of spectacle. With projections of cloudscapes spinning into portals behind her and curtains of fairylights illuminating stills of rippling water, you feel immersed, if not submerged in the show. Wendy brings the experience to a crescendo with a dramatic violin finale; yet another skill to add to her bow. It's not surprising that she's also a skilled photographer, having shot for Vogue Italia and other well known publications; the aesthetic of her work is obviously just as important to her as the sound of it.

And what of the sound? You might be forgiven for suspecting that all this drama and spectacle might be a cunning distraction, included by an actress who's not confident that her voice alone is worth all the attention- but this couldn't be further from the truth. Her singing is captivating- her range stunning and the way in which she uses her acting skills to change her voice throughout songs is something I've never witnessed before. You really do feel like you're in the presence of someone who could make anything mesmerising- I can't wait to see what she does next.

Photos by Philipp Morozov

Wendy Bevan with Temper Temper at the Spill Festival 2013, Toynbee Studios London from EYESONTHEWALL on Vimeo.

 

You can see Temper Temper perform Pain of Desire at Pulse Festival at the New Wolsey Theatre on 7th June.