Fyfe Dangerfield

Originally published by The Independent, 28/09/2010.

Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

It begins in an intimate manner, as Fyfe Dangerfield, lead singer of Guillemots, stands alone to sing a quiet rendition of Faster than the Setting Sun. But then, after an almost maudlin first verse, his band sneak onstage and the beat kicks in. It’s a sudden shift, yet feels utterly natural, exhibiting a melodic and tonally thrilling schizophrenia that sets the mood for the evening.

Dangerfield (his real name) oozes rhythm and melody with every note he sings and plays, sending his voice up and down an extraordinary range with ease and commanding the stage with a gawky, enthusiastic confidence. He seems most comfortable when making music, smiling uncertainly when a fan shouts out her love for him before visibly relaxing once concealed behind a guitar or keyboard. Promoting his first solo album, Fly Yellow Moon, he and his band wear sharp black suits – ‘They’re DKNY’, he admits with an embarrassed shrug – and clearly know these tunes inside out.

Between the six of them, tracks such as Walk in the Room and She Needs Me have far more punch and energy than on the album. Much of this is down to Dangerfield’s sheer physicality – he leaps around the stage, jerking his limbs with irrepressible excitement and singing with heartfelt emotion. The stylish lighting emphasises each head shake and exposes every arcing explosion of spittle, and the audience can’t help but be swept along by such enthusiasm.

Mid-way through, the rest of the band exit and the mood shifts to something far quieter and more haunting. He performs two Guillemots tracks – Little Bear and We’re Here – at a slower pace, stripping away their orchestral decoration to reveal lyrics of surprising poeticism. Yet this quiet reflection is soon replaced by another burst of hyperactivity as his band returns to race through the last songs. It is an evening of huge variety in mood and genre, but united by Dangerfield’s infectious love of painting broad emotions onto any canvas he can find.

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