Guillemots, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Guillemots' 2006 debut, Through the Windowpane, sent them soaring skyward, but it was their eccentric performances - earning them a Brit nomination for Best Live Act in 2007 - that became the stuff of legend. From guitarist MC Lord Magrao's fondness for wearing bin bags, to their hoover-waving antics, Guillemots were as serious about being silly as they were about their classically honed, unashamedly ambitious music.

But it was a very different band who strode purposefully onto the stage, and frontman Fyfe Dangerfield's decision to team a blood-red cardigan with garish trainers was their only mildly amusing choice of apparel. The colour was a homage to the new album, Red, and as the Mediterranean-flavoured keyboards of opener Kriss Kross gave way to grinding rock guitars, it was clear pop's quirkiest newcomers had grown teeth.

Red is an album of intriguing ideas, dense instrumentation and varied moods. The slippery songs unfurl over repeated listens, and were met with bemusement by a crowd expecting a wacky version of Keane. There was zero atmosphere, and the band's disposition did not help. Dangerfield introduced the bitter, biting Big Dog as a song "about debauchery and stuff", while looking the picture of sober solemnity. He was joined by Scandinavian indie singer Ida Maria for a passionate rendition of Words, but it failed to ignite any excitement. Nor did the punchy new single, Get Over It.

Dangerfield's acoustic performance of We're Here changed things, its tenderness giving the silent crowd what they wanted. They woke up to Annie, Let's Not Wait and the shimmering pop of Trains to Brazil, but it was all too late. "Last time I was here I was watching Ryan Adams," said Dangerfield. "But it wasn't very good." Sadly, the same can be said for Guillemots.


Betty Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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