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24 September 2014

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Fyfe Dangerfield
Fyfe Dangerfield

Guillemots take flight

By Linda Serck
Currently on tour, Mercury Music-nominated Guillemots stop off at Reading University. Is their richly-textured and thought-provoking music lost on an audience raised on Franz and Oasis?


1. Little Bear
2. We're Here
3. Made-up Lovesong #43
4. Go Away
5. Cat's Eyes
6. Through The Windowpane
7. Words
8. If The World Ends
9. 21st May
10. Who Left The Lights Off, Baby?
11. Annie, Let's Not Wait
12. By The Water
13. Redwings
14. Trains To Brazil
15. Sao Paulo

Guillemots | Support: The Last Town Chorus | Reading University | 30/10/06

See the photos of the gig here:
In pics: Guillemots >

The first we see of shaggy-haired Fyfe Dangerfield is, oddly enough, playing drums for the support act.

For Last Town Chorus's final lapsteel-tinged numbers, Fyfe shuffles on unassumedly, hunches into position on the stool and softly thumps the snares. A mark of a modest and humble gent who's not too bothered about the pomp of being the frontman of a Mercury Music Prize-nominated band. You wouldn't catch many other frontmen doing that.

But for the main show he is again the dashing lead man of the Guillemots.

On a stage bathed in blue light he strides forth to his keyboard and settles on his ornately-carved wooden chair. He's donned a cap that's far too small for his bulging hair but it looks sweet - like Gilbert O' Sullivan meets Wee Jimmy Crankie.

Among the chaos of old televisions, wires, effects pedals and, a dog-eared suitcase of toy instruments (which disappointingly is only for show), the crispness of Little Bear shines forth. The brooding classical piece heralds the class of music tonight - rich and tapestried, mellifluous and poetic, uneasy and lushly so.

Sadly from the outset it's clear that some students have just come along cos it's a few feet from their digs, and choose to yak inanely through what is one of the most powerfully sweet but heart-wrenching songs they'll ever hear live at this venue.

Everyone stops in their tracks however when Fyfe halts two short-lived tries of Made Up Lovesong #43 when some sampling goes wrong on his synth. Everyone loves a bit of embarrassment don't they.

The rest of the gig goes unscathed, apart from the endless chattering during the most sensitive moments. Songs off their previous EPs as well as a new song, Words, gets an airing. It's all coming together like a post-modern musical set in a jungle buzzing with birdsong.

Fyfe's vocal-range is truly stunning, wailing up to the rafters one minute, booming out forthrightly the next, forever bobbing his head left and right - be it behind the keyboards or jiggling about on the guitar.

The band are a collective of superbly talented musicians whose set is, on the whole, lost on an audience of youngsters fired up by short 'n' snappy dance-floor fillers, not 11-minute long sweeping poperatic gems that would make Rufus Wainwright weep.

Perhaps the music is too self-indulgent, perhaps the band shouldn't tour universities. Perhaps we should all shut up and start listening.

last updated: 31/10/06
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Music fan
agree about the crowd at the gig - very rude and very annoying for us that actually wanted to listen.

Daisy Kinnill
I think that's a pretty unfair review of the crowd, from where I was standing people wear bouncing along happily & cheering ever song like it was the first. Yes, there was chit chat because they're a band people want to talk about!!

I noticed the incessant yaking too - considering what a wonderful voice he has and with such a great set of songs I consider that very disrespectful. The venue wasn't that full either - there were more for the Subways and they're hardly inspirational.

But the burning question is still unanswered: Did they use an old typewriter as a musical instrument again?

Reading gig-goer
All well and good, but why no review of the After Dark gig last Thurs? How can you omit an After Dark gig from your coverage of live music in the area? Wish I'd seen the Guillemots tho..

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