Clarks Originals: Guillemots

With The Supernovas, The Pierces
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Judging by their ticket sales, Tom Yorke has something to fear from Guillemots when it comes to having the most hyped album of 2011. Their gigs sell out in minutes, although there weren’t hordes of teenagers set to bum rush the show at this invite-only night, the sense of anticipation as the mic checks started [Fyfe Dangerfield was backstage leant on a double bass case writing lyrics] was palpable.

The crowd was tougher than most. Ken High Street label bosses bar-queued with E8 models and Chelsea-booted Ronson memes as the jagged byzantine roof beams bit the dark. The venue was the Bathhouse, the ex-Victorian Turkish bath in the yard of St Botolph’s without Bishopsgate.

The first band were The Supernovas, a SXSW-baptised band which were saved from ruin by Strummerville after all their equipment was lost in a fire. Their very British brand with a cocky norf London sound won them friends immediately, and tales of sore-head regret after downing too much Gaymers proved a welcome tonic to the forced-jaded look of so many bands playing in that postcode, at exactly the same time.

The Pierces followed, a beautiful pair of sisters from the deep south, one blonde, one dark. They have been compared to Stevie Nicks although I couldn’t see much of that in their performance, indeed until I moved closer I couldn’t see much of them at all - they were too mini to look over the crowd.

The lights lit their hair a winter afternoon blue as Alison raised her hands into the air slowly, very flamenco, singing about the pains of dating a musician, “I don’t recommend it”. The set was hushed, some of the audience were inconsiderate, but those lucky enough to be able to fell hard for The Pierces.

Guillemots played nine of the twelve tracks on their album at their gig, and on them Fyfe’s spittle-thread frail pitch and the etherized instrumentation gave a new side to Guillemots’ music. The group began with the echoed title track ‘Walk The River’, ‘Walking slowly through space...walk the river, like a hunted animal’. Next came Ice Room, pulse drum underlaying mellifluous vocal cries and more ‘ice’-y cold images for the album’s numb side.

The stand out track of the album followed, ‘Vermillion', displaying Fyfe’s revived focus on well wrought lyrics. Starting with a brisk-strum guitar and 1) wrong-footing misery-soak tones 2) Whacking you in the face with a brilliant snow image 3) napalming the song with an Arcade Fire- shine chorus. Fyfe loves skies, he tells me, and is forever boring his fanbase with new similes for it – this one is perhaps his best.

‘Dancing in the Devil’s shoes’ takes a different direction, all Fyfe’s lyrics taking a moon-cold chromatic, drawing the set to its close. The last track on the album was to be the last for the set; a witching synth, the combined weight of the song darkly agglomerating as the beehive lights shone rhubarb-white behind them.

Then came a surprise acoustic encore, a track I suspect penned backstage on that double bass case, written beautifully and fully expressing that thread-thin quality of Fyfe’s voice and its effect, thin but thin like a blade.

Words by Miguel Cullen

Find out more about Clarks Originals 'Original And Live' gig series on ClashMusic.com HERE.

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