Fyfe Dangerfield - Bloomsbury Theatre, London
Guillemots frontman Fyfe Dangerfield released his debut solo album Fly Yellow Moon at the beginning of 2010. Since then he's been keeping himself occupied performing headline shows, supporting Corinne Bailey Rae and touring the States, including a handful of sets at Austin's prestigious SXSW event. I was fortunate to attend Fyfe's album launch at a swanky London establishment at the tail end of last year where he played with a string quartet but hadn't seen him since so couldn't pass up the chance to attend the first evening of his two night stint at London's Bloomsbury Theatre.
Fyfe was supported by Whitburn singer Nadine Shah. Her musical output wasn't really my cup of tea as I prefer my music a bit more uplifting but if you're a fan of miserable melodies and lovelorn lyrics played by a happy enough Northern lass on a piano (possibly with a cold) then she's certainly worth checking out in the future as she's very good at what she does.
I was one of a handful of "official" photographers attending the event waiting patiently in our designated corner stage right for Fyfe to appear. It wasn't a great angle for pictures and things took to a turn for the worst when Mr Dangerfield entered the stage, plonking himself down at a piano stage left, his back to us and at the other side of the room!
Taking the lead from another shooter we all decided to move position, proceeding to crawl on our knees past the front row like an amateur production of Snow White And The Seven Dwarves ending up at a better vantage point next to Fyfe's piano. The easy going singer didn't seem too put out by this invasion, even giving us a glimpse of his "Rock Star" sun glasses but he did ask us to sit out the third song as it was a very quiet one and cameras can be noisy buggers in silent rooms!
As luck would have it there were a couple of empty seats in the front row so I was able to wait for the next song from a very good spot and was delighted to see Fyfe move over to the microphone stand centre stage for our final photographed number, an excellent version of current single "Faster Than The Setting Sun".
Once my camera was put away I held onto my front row position and was able to take the show in in more detail. Fyfe seemed to be joined onstage by two violinists but I couldn't actually see them due to the placement of the grand piano! "Livewire" was next up, with Fyfe informing the audience after its completion that at this point of the evening it would really be good if he could tell an anecdotal, but slightly wise, story but he didn't have any so proceeded to play us the sound of a man laughing on his keyboard instead!
Fly Yellow Moon is a really good solid album and I actually probably prefer it as a whole to both Guillemots releases. I would have been content with a basic run through of the collection but Mr Dangerfield isn't one to rest on his laurels so performed the remainder of the evening's songs using different arrangements. Flitting between keyboard, guitar and piano Fyfe was able to keep the whole thing together with a magical musical box of tricks (or possibly backing tracks). Regular TMF readers may know that I tend to gravitate towards female singers but for some reason Fyfe is probably my favourite male voice in recent years.
The first of many other highlights was a song that started off like a techno stomper with Gang Of Four style guitars, revealing itself to be a cover of "Call The Shots" from Girls Aloud - certainly one of the best covers I've heard in recent months. My most played track on the album is the acoustic ballad "High on the Tide" and this was delivered with the opening verse using a backing reminiscent of a musical box, with the song building as the violins swept in as the second verse appeared . This would have been perfect had Fyfe not forgotten the words towards the end of the first verse, leading to a quick pit stop as he picked up the lyrics from the floor, taking the song from where he left off once he remembered what he had written. That being said it wasn't too shabby a rendition and was my second favourite song of the night!
The prime spot was reserved for Fyfe's Bloomsbury take on "She Needs Me" (AKA the "Daytime on 5" song), somehow transforming it to slightly resemble a long lost Bacharach classic, leaving me with goose bumps in its first few moments.
Fyfe's set ended officially with the techno button pressed again for an uplifting "Any Direction" but he returned to the stage to treat us to another couple of songs.
First up was the track that will hopefully introduce Mr Dangerfield to a much larger audience as it was his take on Billy Joel's "She's Always A Woman", a song Fyfe recorded for the current John Lewis commercial. Earlier in the evening an audience member had shouted "I saw you on John Lewis", with Fyfe replying "I saw you in John Lewis"! This time round there was an audience discussion regarding who the baby was meant to be in the video, with Fyfe finally deciding "Not someone who shops in Debenhams anyway!" It was an exquisite rendition of the song and the good news is it's likely to be released as a single. The night came to a close with a final run through of Guillemots single "We're Here", with Fyfe's soaring vocals sending us out on a high.