Live Music + Gig Reviews

Guillemots @ Borderline, London

13 December 2005



While the Chinese horoscope may state that 2006 is in fact the year of the dog, there is a band who suggest otherwise. They go by the name of Guillemots, and judging by the hugely spirited and entertaining performance they gave at the Borderline, their final show of 2005, the year ahead of us may well turn out to be one that’s dominated by a coastal bird.

And things are certainly in place for this to happen. They’ve just supported Rufus Wainwright, they’ve got one of those limited edition debut singles going for silly money on eBay, and are currently being plugged on screens and radios nationwide. All this has ensured that there’s a distinct buzz surrounding this band at the moment, meaning tonight’s show was one of the most sought after tickets in London town.

A quartet, led by eccentric singer cum keyboardist Fyfe Anthony Dangerfield Hutchins (his real name, apparently), they also utilise drums, guitar, a double bass, an assortment of horns and the occasional saxophone to create some truly uplifting, quirky and compelling pop music.

This evening they arrived on stage gently blowing recorders in a bird like manner, before merging into Windowpane, a dark, haunting and slow burning number. Hutchins’ vocals were as crisp and stark as you could wish, echoing around the small basement, surely interfering with the hair on people’s necks. From this point onwards, he had the audience in the palm of his hand.

Indeed, there was a visible interest in the music, with not a whisper to be heard during the more sombre moments – no mean feat considering the boisterous reputation of London crowds. What’s more, the material on display was greeted with a sense of jubilation, with many often accompanying Hutchins as he sang valiantly into the microphone.

Who Left The Lights Off Baby soon followed, this a jaunty, uplifting slice of pop which calls to mind The Zutons at their funkiest. The enchanting Sea Out and debut single Made Up Love Song 43 were aired mid set, both affecting pieces of music that showcased the remarkable versatility of Hutchins’ voice – one that’s able to sound as gruff as Captain Beefheart and as delicate as Jeff Buckley, often within the space of the same song.

Trains To Brazil was received just as you would expect a hit single to be, with both the band and the audience moving around as if they were at a carnival on a beach in Rio. The next song, Blue Would Still Be Blue, was equally intriguing. The band left Hutchins alone on stage, where he performed with just the aid of a Casio keyboard, without a microphone. Again, not a sound was to be heard as he sang his heart out, and rather beautifully at that, for about five minutes.

His comrades then returned for an extended run through Sao Paulo, a song with a euphoric outro to rival There Goes The Fear by Doves. It’s what we could term as their ‘epic’ track, and is sure to become the centrepiece of their future live outings. It was also a monumental end to one of the most action packed and fun filled gigs of the year, and just a taster of the delights that are to come from this band in the future.

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More on Guillemots
Guillemots – Hello Land!
Guillemots @ KOKO, London
Guillemots – Walk The River
Guillemots @ Plug, Sheffield
Guillemots: “Emotionally you have to be careful. You’re making a living out of expressing yourself” – Interview