Newcastle Student Union
Some bands you see live and think ‘yeah that was a decent show’ but more because they replicate their sound live as you would hear on CD.
While this is all well and good it is a rather expensive way to listen to a CD. Sometimes bands also manage to bring something a little extra to their live show and ‘entertain’, while sometimes they manage to go one step further and actually sound better live than they do on CD. The Guillemots are one of these bands.
Alex J Ward is just finishing up, and seems to be a decent singer songwriter but not really at a level that would make you stand up and take notice, or beyond a smoky pub with vaguely disinterested locals. While he does get Fyfe Dangerfield to do a spot of drumming on the final jam, his appearance owes a lot to the fact that he is part of the Guillemots ensemble later on. Don’t get me wrong I’d rather watch him than listen to the mix bag of songs that are played in between over the PA but there is little standing out here.
Next up is Brooklyn’s The Last Town Chorus, who it appears, have been specifically invited to play on this tour. Unfortunately whilst the atmospheric music they create is all very well and good, the songs are long and drawn out. They also have a tendency in my slightly tired mood to sound incredibly like the last, and I soon find more interesting things to do. Like staring at the floor. They are as a friend points out, little more than background music. The only thing that does amuse me is the lead singer’s tiny guitar and the ridiculous fur ferret-like thing around her neck that constantly falls on the guitar. Fashion over function hey?
The Guillemots have evolved since I last saw them; every nook of the stage is crammed with samples and just about every instrument you’d care to name, along with extra backing performers. It’s getting more and more like an orchestra. They also have an inordinate amount of stage hands and roadies’ scurrying about making sure everything is in working order. It’s almost more like a stage show than an actual band. This isn’t to say that the Guillemots are a circus with the music taking a Sideshow Bob kind of role, it still very much takes precedent as they rattle through ‘Through the Windowpane’ and pleasingly a lot of the older songs from previous EP’s such as ‘Cat’s Eyes’ and ‘Who Left The Light On Baby?’. With the extra musicians on board, the songs sound a lot fuller, and no expense is spared with making the sounds just right. Who else could claim that they play the power drill, typewriter and bin lid?
This coupled with glitter balls, and bubble machines makes it hard not to leave the gig with a smile on your face. The band have seemed to have grown in confidence and rightly so. The scary thing is what comes next, can they continue to grow in true behemoth fashion or will they flounder. The creativity and individualism would tend to suggest that the former is more likely and on this evidence, why not?