Gig Review: Guillemots, Leeds Cockpit, 1st April 2006

There’s been a buzz about the Guillemots for a few months now and they came in fifth in the BBC’s Sound Of 2006 poll at the start of the year, albeit behind Athlete tribute band The Feeling and Corinne David Gray. It wasn’t until a mammoth post on Good Weather For Air Strikes a few weeks ago, where a veritable albums worth of tracks were posted (and are still up there), that I finally sat up and took notice. Unfortunately the Guillemots’ gig at the Night & Day sold out ages ago but JustHipper managed to score two tickets for their Leeds gig on Ebay for just £6. A bargain.

Support came from Misty’s Big Adventure, an eclectic Birmingham eight-piece who mix big band, ska, psychedelia, rock ‘n’ roll and comedy to great effect. A huge man dressed in an oversized red romper suit with big blue hands sewn into it danced intensely beside them, occasionally venturing into the audience to slow dance with game punters or scare the shit out of others. Fortunately he didn’t detract too much from the music and the rest of the band provided enough energy of their own as they ran through a thoroughly entertaining set that never flagged. Lead singer Grandmaster Gareth was the star of the show, his droll lyrics and demeanor at odds with the upbeat nature of the musical backing. The crowd loved them and I can imagine them going down very well at the odd festival this summer.

Guillemots started with Fyfe Dangerfield singing the first number alone before being joined by his bandmates, who marched onstage tooting and banging away at various odds and ends before settling behind their instruments. The instrumentation is quite unusual: Fyfe teases all manner of noises out of his keyboards while keeping the “piano” setting close at hand; Aristazabal Hawkes plonks away on her double bass with great skill and a smile on her face; Greig Stewart either pounds or caresses his drums depending on the demands of the song, and guitarist MC Lord Magrao makes his guitar sound not much like a guitar at all. All these disparate sounds gel brilliantly, however, and the band are capable of sounding huge one moment and desperately intimate the next.

Some Guillemots songs are not as immediate as others and things began to drag just a little during the first half of the set, leading to familiar chatterings from behind us and plenty of shushing of people during the many quiet bits. Things changed after a curious exchange between Fyfe and an audience member which went something like:

Yorkshireman: “Is Fyfe your real name?”
Fyfe: “Yes”
Yorkshireman: “Do you like flyfishing then?”
Fyfe: “WTF!!!”

There followed an short improvised tune about flyfishing which reeled the audience back in and from then on things went from good to great. A triumphant “Who Left The Lights Off Baby” (that’s a Belle & Sebastian song, surely) gave way to the brilliant “Trains To Brazil”, which induced some energetic moshing in the previously placid audience. “Go Away” continued the run of good form and “Blue Would Still Be Blue” (another B&S-like title) with Fyfe on his own again with a cheap casiotone keyboard, was simply beautiful and was greeted rapturously, though Fyfe seemed surprised that so many people knew the words. They finished with MC Lord Magrao playing typewriter on the excellent unreleased “Sao Paulo” and encored with the gleeful heavy metal of “She’s Evil”.

On this evidence Guillemots will be massive in 2006. They’re a band of genuine character and they’ve got tons of great songs already despite not having released an album yet. Catch them when they tour again in May before the inevitable re-release of “Trains To Brazil” sends them into the stratosphere.

2 Responses to “Gig Review: Guillemots, Leeds Cockpit, 1st April 2006”

  • Yankunian Says:

    Hey – thanks for the review. I had just recently downloaded some amazing tracks by these guys and imagined they would be great live, so it was really good to read about their show. Let us know if they come closer to manchester anytime soon…

  • JustHipper Says:

    They’re back on May 24, actually, at the Academy 3. I would highly recommend it. We’ve already got our tickets!

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