at the Alexandra Theatre * * * *
Review by Simon Harper
It's been a phenomenal year for Guillemots. Since the release of their debut EP in autumn 2005, they've had a handful of chartbound singles, made an appearance on the now-defunct Top of the Pops and performed at a host of this summer's festivals, not to mention a Mercury Music Prize nomination for the debut album.
Now playing in a theatre, Birmingham-born frontman Fyfe Dangerfield seems slightly non-plussed at playing such a venue, being more familiar with performing in smaller rooms, but the fact that the cosmopolitan quartet manage to fill the theatre with a frequently wondrous wall of sound is testament to their abilities.
Anyone who's gradually fallen in love with their first full-length outing might be left feeling non-plussed too. While their recorded output focuses on baroque, often string-laden pop, the live incarnation of Guillemots is a different beast.
Dangerfield pummels away at his keyboards, with his strangely angelic vocal being part-croon and part-yelp; it's all underpinned by deliciously strange guitar noises courtesy MC Lord Magrao.
We're Here comes across as an unholy collaboration between Phil Spector and Sonic Youth, all swooning strings and discordant guitar noise. The biggest applause is reserved for Made Up Love Song #43 though, arguably their finest moment to date and unquestionably a summer anthem of sorts.
One thing that sets Guillemots apart from many of their contemporaries is a willingness to experiment. Sometimes it's more successful than others - the free jazz cacophonies littered throughout their set begin to grate after a while, but then you get sucked back in when you realise that you wouldn't get this from Razorlight and friends.
Guillemots are a fascinating band - keen sonic explorers and talented songwriters - and it's hard to guess what they'll do next. You'd be foolish not to sit back and enjoy the ride.