Live Music + Gig Reviews

Fyfe Dangerfield @ Academy, Oxford

24 September 2010

Fyfe Dangerfield

Fyfe Dangerfield

The Boy Who Trapped The Sun, or Colin Macleod as most people know him, has got a sore throat. We only know this because he’s just told us; and it comes as something of a shock, because up to this point the audience has been wallowing in this note perfect performance.

But it may explain just why he’s playing what seems to be a criminally short set tonight. Accompanied by cellist Stacey, he runs through the best moments of his quite lovely debut album Fireplace. Stripped back, with no bass guitar or drum kit, these songs work just as well, if not better than on record.

The beat is supplied by simply stamping on the stage, whilst Macleod’s fingers skitter across the strings of his acoustic guitar with stunning proficiency. Notes speedily tumble from his guitar as his gentle voice drifts across his songs adding warmth and depth. The blues riff of Home coupled with the beautiful tone of Macleod’s voice, which is not too dissimilar from Gary Lightbody’s turn with The Reindeer Section, stuns those who insist on talking through his set into a sadly temporary silence. Unfortunately his set seems to be curtailed before he really gets going, but in the short time he’s had on the stage, The Boy Who Trapped The Sun clearly made an impression.

A quick scan around the room suggests that the majority of the audience tonight are either new students who have simply come to a gig because it’s something to do (they look a bit confused) or are older couples who, having caught Fyfe Dangerfield’s cover of Billy Joel‘s Always A Woman on that John Lewis advert, decided to have a nice night out.

Fyfe Dangerfield takes to the stage in the company of two violinists (well one’s a violin, and the other is a viola if you want to split hairs) and quickly has the audience in thrall to his lilting voice. He opens with a stripped back version of Faster Than The Setting Sun which is breathtaking, and follows it up with Live Wire and the mournful Firebird – perfectly executing an emotive opening few minutes. When his band finally join him he’s already well on form, confidently joking with the audience and encouraging them to sing to him, and to perform a supporting role by providing the sound of the waves for High On The Tide.

It’s perhaps Dangerfield’s keen sense of humour that makes his music come alive. Despite the emotional nature of many of his songs (the soaring strings of She Needs Me or the quiet introspection of Barricades for example), his wit always shines through. Tonight as he’s extolling the virtues of Listerine mouth spray, he suggests he might become a UK ambassador for the project. “You’ve already sold out once,” someone in the audience fires back. Dangerfield then adopts a wide grin and an American accent before rambles on for a couple of minutes about how this particular audience member should make a sandwich, and then shove it up his ass.

He later introduces Always A Woman as “the sell out song”, and whilst it might be the highlight for the audience tonight, it seems a little flat. Thankfully there’s plenty of depth to Dangerfield’s own material to ensure that he won’t become defined by this single cover. A case in point comes during the encore when he doffs his cap to Guillemots. With a smile on his face he claims them to be his favourite band, announces that album number three won’t be long, and performs a stunning version of Made Up Love Song No 43. It serves as a reminder of just how good Guillemots are, and what a fantastic talent Dangerfield possesses. As a solo artist, this is a truth he proves easily tonight time and again.

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More on Fyfe Dangerfield
Fyfe Dangerfield: “I’ve stockpiled so much music over the last decade” – Q&A and This Music Made Me
Fyfe Dangerfield @ Academy, Oxford
Fyfe Dangerfield: “There’s a real feeling of contentedness, a sense of hope” – Interview
Fyfe Dangerfield – Fly Yellow Moon