Written by Josephine Best
I’m not so sure that the elderly guy wearing a Todd Rundgren shirt knew what he was getting himself into when he entered Brighton Music Hall that night. He was a senior member among a crowd of “X” marked hands, highlighting the extensive under-21 crowd in the venue. Beaded bracelets and halter tops, along with the Rundgren guy, smushed themselves against the barricade before the stage. Juxtaposition was a common theme that night, with Alfie Templeman and Thomas Headon being opposites.
Templeman was the first to take the stage, along with a full band. He walked out dressed in patchwork denim pants and his own cowboy-decorated “Alfie Templeman USA Tour” merch. Immediately he addressed the crowd, expressing his excitement to be playing Boston at the same venue he performed at nearly a year before. He checked the audience for Chloe Moriondo fans, who he supported his last time around, before starting the night off with the 80s synth intro of “Candy Floss.”
Fans of Templeman were shocked to hear how different his live performance was from his recorded tracks, in the best way possible. His songs were transformed from synth-heavy pop to guitar-led, almost rock, tracks. He lets himself have fun with his live performances with random guitar solos that decorate the songs in rock, demonstrating his Jimmy Page-inspired technique.
He addressed the crowd before introducing each song. It was as if he let every intrusive thought win with random quips like, “Shout out to Boston creme pies. Those things are so good,” and “F—-ing A man. That’s my favorite American saying, guys.” At one point, he remembered that Boston was the name of a band and sang the words “more than a feeling” while his guitarist Jos chimed in with the tune for about 10 seconds. While random, his banter established an aura of familiarity within the crowd in a way that humanized him as a performer.
His anxiety did show a bit during his performance and his indiscriminate addresses to the crowd. He dazed the congregation with his Page-influenced guitar abilities and gave the appearance of comfort, but his eyes never met the audience. They glazed just above it. However, he makes up for it with his musical performance. While the sound of his music changes when performed live, the sound of his voice does not. Templeman hit the high notes in “Movies,” “Colour Me Blue,” and “Leaving Today” effortlessly and demonstrated clear talent.
Even with evident talent, the crowd seemed to be oblivious. I was baffled at the crowd’s response to Templeman. Moshing wasn’t allowed at the venue, but I expected more. People were nodding their heads and swaying but without enthusiasm. Alfie Templeman has to have some of the easiest songs to dance to, they have a clear beat and excellent build-up, yet the majority of the crowd refused to be affected by it. As the night progressed, more people gave in (as they should), but for the majority of his set, it felt like something was missing.
Templeman did his best to engage the audience. He played an unreleased track titled “Eyes Wide Shut” from his upcoming album, and at the end of his set, he played an extended outro of “Movies” while introducing each member of his band. Jos Shepard on guitar, Jacob Wing on drums, and KC Blackwater on bass each got a round of applause from the audience before ending the set with “Happiness In Liquid Form.” Templeman left the stage introducing his friend, “Thank you so much. It is so lovely to be back. Enjoy Thomas!”
He went straight to the crowd after leaving the stage. Templeman graciously talked and took photos with fans near the barricade for about 20 minutes before finally heading backstage.
It was another 30 minutes before Headon took to the stage. During that time, the audience grew restless while 80s hits played in the background. The guy in the Todd Rundgren shirt left the venue altogether.
Around 9:30 pm, Headon waltzed onto the stage to the sounds of shrieking, not screaming, shrieking. I would like to make that clear. A drummer accompanied him, and a singular guitarist who we later found out was from Berklee School of Music. Known for his comedic shirts, Headon showed up in a black top that read “Dancing is better than sex,” with the back coated in various reasons. He played into this statement by dancing around for the entirety of the stage for his performance.
He picked up his Fender telecaster flower-sticker coated guitar before playing the recorded backing of “How Do I Know” came into play. The difference between him and Templeman quickly became apparent. Headon was all over the stage (in a good way), dancing and smiling, pointing into the crowd causing wails from young girls. He knows his brand and plays into it with immense precision and skill. He spoke to the audience between each track break and talked with the crowd rather than at it. At one point, he asked for screams to demonstrate which University the audience was from. According to noise level, BU had the largest population at the venue, and Headon forgot to ask about Boston College.
Headon has multiple EPs and over 20 songs, but he doesn’t have an album out yet. Technically he has enough tracks to fill a concert, but he chose to include two covers. He played the first one halfway through his performance. He warned the crowd that if they didn’t know his songs, they had no excuse not to dance and sing the next one. Then he played “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift. The audience responded by screaming the lyrics and bouncing with more enthusiasm than they had for the entirety of Templeman’s performance. A couple next to me started twirling each other about with zero disregard for the people around them. The energy in the venue had completely shifted.
After the Taylor Swift appearance, Headon played his most streamed song, “Clean Me Up.” To begin the performance, he tugged at the bottom of his shirt, revealing his lower chest. Eardrums were murdered by the squeals this provoked. Then standing on the edge of the stage, he leaned into the crowd, reading fan signs, pointing, and grinning. When the beat dropped, he bounced around the stage before putting the mic up to his guitarist’s mouth to help him sing the chorus. His stage performance was infectious, and the guitarist, who had been stone-faced the entire time, lit up as Headon’s arm went around his shoulders.
After playing “I Loved a Boy,” he played his second cover. He asked the audience to raise their left arm and make a fist. Then he instructed the congregation to raise their pinky and index finger, resulting in the “rock” hand sign. He asked the crowd if they were ready to “rock” and then began playing “Best of Both Worlds” by Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana).
The audience ate it up. This is what I mean when I say Headon knows his brand. He knows what his fans want, and he delivers, resulting in an incredibly enthusiastic crowd. When he finished his last song of the night, “UrbanAngel1999,” the sound of “what” and “where’s the encore” echoed through the venue. Around 20 minutes after Headon left the stage, there were still about 30 people waiting by the barricades, and security had to ask them to leave. A crowd of about 15-20 people waited outside the venue in 30-degree weather that night to meet the artists, impressive for such a small venue.
Fans waited for over an hour for the duo, to meet the artists who played to completely different audiences that night. Templeman and Headon fit each other like a puzzle, each making up for what the other lacked. This resulted in one of the strangest shows I have ever been to, but it satisfied every desire. Templeman carried the brunt of the musical efforts for the evening while Headon exuded enough on-stage charisma for the both of them, resulting in the perfect combination.
Their North American Tour ended Monday, November 21st, in Toronto, ON.
Alfie Templeman Setlist
- Obvious Guy
- Things I thought Were Mine
- Film Scene Daydream
- Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody
- Leaving Today
- Eyes Wide Shut
- Wait, I Lied
- 3D Feelings
- Happiness in Liquid Form
Thomas Headon Setlist
- How Do I Know?
- Strawberry Kisses
- You Belong With Me (Taylor Swift Cover)
- Clean Me Up
- I Loved A Boy
- The Best of Both Worlds (Miley Cyrus Cover)
- Nobody Has to Know