Guillemots, Newcastle University

Newcastle University

The Mercury music prize is like football's play-off final. There is the promise of stardom for the winners, but unsuccessful nominees can be left licking their wounds. No such worries for Guillemots. Leader Fyfe Dangerfield - a man with a hat, hair and voice combination as flamboyant as his name - begins alone at his keyboard. Moments later, he's saying: "Nothing is worth winning without a fight". It's a confident opening that suggests their Mercury nomination may have been just the beginning.

And yet the honoured album - Through the Windowpane - isn't a patch on their live show, where the rough and interesting edges that were removed in the studio remain proudly in place. The band wear their individuality like a badge. They may be the first band in history who sound as though they were influenced by a combination of Tim Buckley's Song to the Siren, experimental early Genesis, Simple Minds and Deacon Blue. The mainstream end of their sound is typified by the anthemic Made Up Love Song No 43, which presumably encouraged the industry to view them as a more unusual, edgy Keane. Certainly, it's impossible to imagine Tom Chaplin's more conservative outfit using a dustbin lid as percussion.

However, Dangerfield's band may still lack the one killer tune to take them to another level, although Who Left the Lights Off Baby?, from their first EP, cries out for more attention. At 90 minutes, the set feels overlong and things get progressively more hazy. Dangerfield forgets his lyrics and has to ask the audience for assistance. The flurry of drunken, mischievous Geordie suggestions are possibly not entirely what the poor man had in mind.

· At the Roundhouse, London NW1, on Saturday. Box office: 0870 389 1846. Then touring.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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