Teleman, The Portland Arms, Cambridge, 9th April 2016
I had been waiting for the opportunity to see Teleman for two years (almost to the day!), since I first heard “23 Floors Up” on BBC 6 Music in April 2014. The fact that the opportunity came in the form of a photo pass for their gig at an unusual, delightful local venue almost floored me. I was ecstatic that I could finally see one of my favourite new bands, whose debut album “Breakfast” is virtually perfect and who have just released album number two, “Brilliant Sanity”, which is definitely giving the first a run for its money!
Up first was the perfectly matched support act, Oscar, whose music is elevating and striking. Oscar Scheller delivers his rich, sonorous bounty with a swagger and a seemingly everlasting grin. Reassuringly warm guitars couple with a deep sincerity conveyed in the meld of melancholy and rapture, and the entire set was sprinkled with conversational drum beats, to the point bass sounds and tantalising keyboard effects. Blissful.
At last, it was time for Teleman. Setting their own gear up, they took approximately a nano-second to arrive on stage for the start of the gig, which was quite surreal. I was elated that I was seeing a quality band in such a tiny venue.
There was a discerning, largely mature crowd present (apart from the young teens standing next to me with their parents – after a lengthy chat with them, I came to the conclusion they were possibly the band’s biggest fans!), entirely composed of genuine music lovers who were extremely vocal in their appreciation from start to finish.
The configuration of the audience is no surprise when you really feel the sense of advancement with this band. They have a confidence that you generally find in bands who have been around much longer – these guys are serious about what they do, there is absolutely no denying that.
From the get-go, Teleman were tight, together and perfectly locked into each other’s musicality. There was an almost magical, intimate wash of gentle sound and pastel colours throughout their live performance that brought to mind the incredible paintings of Georges Seurat.
Teleman didn’t waver once during the entire set, which was composed of their well-known and much-loved songs such as Cristina (during which the band’s devotees caused a moment of amusement by getting a bit over-zealous with the lyrics when the baton was passed to them!), 23 Floors Up and Steam Train Girl alongside tunes from their new album, with the distinctly breath-taking songs Glory Hallelujah, Tangerine and Fall in Time among others.
My companion last night is someone who knows what it’s like to be in bands and to tour extensively. He was equally as enthralled as I was for the evening, commenting that it’s an incredible skill to have the restraint that Teleman show in their music, holding back from letting the songs run away with them and still keeping the listeners hanging onto every note and word. This, to me, is particularly true because singer Thomas Sanders doesn’t quite engage with the band’s onlookers, but it just goes to show it’s the music that reaches out and not banter.
Shrouded in something akin to a Valium haze, the gig was full to overflowing with lilting, hypnotic moments of dream-like joy. I departed afterwards feeling completely content and lifted following an evening of sublime live music.
23 Floors Up
Fall in Time
Steam Train Girl