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Guillemots reviewed

Jonathan Schofield puts on the Ritz for one of the UK’s oddest acts

Written by . Published on March 10th 2008.

Guillemots, Sunday night at the Ritz. Genius.

If you’re got the right mindset then this very British (despite the foreigners in the line-up), very whimsical group are perfect. They’re witty, passionate and talented, all bundled together with that very necessary extra ingredient, superb musicianship.

Not that everybody thought so. “The lyrics seem a bit daft,” said a woman, evidently brought along by her boyfriend without any prior knowledge of the Guillemots. He gave her a vicious look which said, “we’re finished.”

In the wonderfully named Fyfe Dangerfield they have a fascinating frontman too with a soaring, note perfect voice, that moves effortlessly from husky to falsetto. He also plays keyboards and guitars with skill, which makes it hard not to be envious of the talented bastard. He’s got the words too.

Not that everybody thought so. “The lyrics seem a bit daft,” said a woman to my left, evidently brought along by her boyfriend without any prior knowledge of the Guillemots. This was during ‘We’re Here’ and seemed to follow the lines, ‘When I can't move/ I'll savour the pause for a while/ And lose myself in waves/ And mountains and the sky/ And I'm back here quick as lightning/ ‘Cause we are just seconds/ Seconds in a day.’ Quality stuff. It was pleasing to note her boyfriend gave her a vicious look which said, “we’re finished.”

What the woman was failing to notice was that Dangerfield has a gorgeous, rich turn of phrase. It teeters on the cheesy but is carried up and out by that voice and the evident sincerity with which the words are sung. ‘We’re here’ – usually a banging away anthem but performed solo on this occasion – brought this quality right out. Other high points of the night were ‘Made Up Love Song #43’ and ‘Annie, Let’s Not Wait’. Material from the new album Red, due out at the end of this month, seemed harder and less lyrical, which is something Dangerfield’s going to have be careful about: the Guillemots depend on being lyrical.

The band as previously mentioned backed up Dangerfield superbly. The brass section was outstanding as was Aristazabal Hawkes on double bass. Apparently on an episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Dangerfield relayed how Hawkes had discovered a note which gives women orgasms. Not sure she played it at the Ritz - didn’t seem to be too much swooning going on, even at the climax of the evening - but her playing of the bass was the stuff of fantasy. Meanwhile Brazilian band-member, MC Lord Magrão (yep, they love curious names, this lot) proved that he’s your man if you want odd sound effects from a guitar.

The choice of the Ritz was good too. Despite its much abused state, including those horrible 1980s mirrors and other fixtures, the old dancehall, seemed spot on with its whimsy and individuality for a band such as the Guillemots. All in all an A1 night that left us humming the words from ‘Trains to Brazil’ as we left. ‘And to those of you who moan your lives through one day to the next/ Well let them take you next.’ Just so Fyfe. Death to the whingers.

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AnonymousMarch 10th 2008.

Great review! The Guillemots were absolutely superb on Sunday night. Fyfe's solo was the massive highlight for me, not only is he incredibly talented but also down to earth and a genuinely nice guy! I've loved this band for ages but really wasn't expecting the gig to blow me away like it did. What a bonus to see them in a venue as intimate as this, 10/10!

AnonymousMarch 10th 2008.

Spot on review! The gig was amazing, even better than when i saw them at the Academy 2 years ago. The new stuff was brilliant and the reworked version of Made up love song 43 was ace. The only downside was the two couple stood next to us who, during the solo by Fyfe decided to talk and laugh loudly throughout. But besides them, AMAZING!

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