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- Rock City, Nottingham »
- Guillemots »
In two days’ time (tonight, as it happens - Ed), Guillemots will be competing with the likes of Muse and Robbie Williams for the best live act at this year's Brit Awards. The fact that it will also be St Valentine's Day isn't lost on the majority of tonight's sold-out audience which, by and large, consists of loved-up couples. Not that we're saying Guillemots provide the perfect soundtrack to that soppy night in with Bridget Jones and a box of Thorntons you understand, but that they've mastered the knack of creating an ambience fit for a quiet night of_ you know what_... and more besides.
Strange, then, that even the soundcheck feels like some kind of exotic laboratory experiment: men in white coats test the complex array of instruments and gadgets that completely engulf the Rock City stage. Bog standard, heads-down, two minutes and away we go rock and roll this ain't, then...
And when Guillemots do take the stage, opening with the delicate 'A Samba Through In The Snowy Rain' which eventually segues into 'Through The Windowpane', it sounds like a combination of rushing tides competing to end the world. Fyfe Dangerfield’s engaging vocal takes on the weight of the world and succeeds, one-handed, almost as if Geoff Capes has possessed his tonsils.
One of the most striking aspects of this band is the way they have grown in stature over such a short space of time - only this time last year they were playing venues a quarter of this size. The confidence which Dangerfield and his five cohorts (boosted by the brass section of Chris Cundy and birthday boy Alex Ward) display is phenomenal: they continually swap instruments as if at random, often mid-song, but never once do they lose any sense of feeling or direction.
Highlights of the set are, perhaps, obvious: 'Made Up Love Song #43' - well, it is that time of year - and the rousing finale of 'Sao Paolo', where support act Laura Groves and her band play percussion alongside four lucky ticket-winning fans. There are also a couple of tender moments (almost spoiled by Mr and Mrs Annoying, who argue about whose round at the bar it is and promptly get told to sshhh by the front three rows), where Dangerfield goes semi-solo on rarely played b-side 'Woody Brown River' and the charming 'Little Bear'. Both make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
Oh, and one mustn't forget the new songs, of which at least three are aired this evening. The first of these, 'Big Dog', seems to have been influenced by the band's time spent with Scissor Sisters: it's a departure into robo-funk that threatens to turn into 'Billie Jean' at any minute. Then, a song that appears to be called '21st May' displays a more sinister edge of the band, with guitarist MC Lord Magrao donning a white face mask while some devilish creature shuffles round the stage; Dangerfield, meanwhile, chants "They want to invade our space!", over and over again. Finally, another untitled song is unveiled. It seems to be the best of the three, and is potentially the most radio-friendly composition that Guillemots have put their name to so far.
With the depth of talent in their ranks, Guillemots’ long-term future is assured, and if they add a few more three-minute pop tunes to an already captivating repertoire, global recognition beckons. All in all, then, a memorable and hugely enjoyable evening.
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