Posted by Warren Barner.
Reviewed on 30th September 2010.
Live at Brudenell Social Club on Monday, 27th September 2010
Fyfe Dangerfield's name resounds like a spoof panama-hatted 1950s British secret agent swanning about in revolutionary Cuba, but there is little dangerous about the main man of The Guillemots, who lit up a drizzly autumnal evening at the wonderful Brudenell Social Club. This is the man who has been thrust into the limelight by supposedly beating off competition from Athlete, the Magic Numbers, Stornoway and Badly Drawn Boy to cover Billy Joel's She's Always a Woman, the soundtrack for the latest John Lewis advert which has left the nation weeping into their prettily embroidered tissues.
That song is a few years older than Dangerfield, but it just seems to fit this faintly nostalgic, loveable Brummie, who comes on stage to the deep baritoned voice of Thomas Feiner & Anywhen's Dinah and the Beautiful Blue wearing suit and pencil thin tie accompanied by his smartly-dressed six-piece (guitar, bass, drums, violin and viola). When he belts out Any Direction, She Needs Me and Computer Game this Shaggy lookalike (Scooby-Doo - not Mr Boombastic) shakes his mop top like the Paul McCartney of old, but tonight's mature crowd of smoochy couples, beards, students and the middle aged are here to pay their respects to the reflective side of this national treasure.
And he delivers an ebb-and-flow set in buckets and spades, introducing the mellifluous High on the Tide as a "seaside song" before declaring the seaside as a "lovely place to be - apparently". Tonight's crowd are too mature to mimic the murmuring of the waves, as urged, but they chip in with a whistle or two at the end of this summery tune.
Dangerfield recovers from a broken string on his opener, Faster than the Setting Sun, to rattle through every track from his solo album Fly Yellow Moon, but the real treat comes midway through the set with two solo versions from the Guillemots' debut album Through the Windowpane. A magical acoustic rendering of Trains from Brazil, played in a different key, leads into If the World Ends on electric piano.
Confident as he is as a song-writer, the on-stage Dangerfield occasionally struggles to overcome his guillemot-like persona as he flaps hard in trying to reach his audience . "It's so hot", he announces after finishing Let's Start Again. One woman spots her kiss-me-quick moment. "You're hot!". But Dangermouse isn't having any of that as he mumbles something about being "sweaty. That's where I am geographically" Eh? Sex on the beach clearly ain't happening off the promenade tonight.
The loved-up She Needs Me brings us full circle as he ends the song with the line 'Faster than the Setting Sun', but a solo version of Made Up Love Song on piano swerves into the housewives' choice of She's Always a Woman. That sends the swooning couples, who had been waiting an hour and a half for it, into raptures, which is somehow a shame because Dangerfield is so much more than an X-factor goon ripping off 'classics'.
Instead he ends with a beefy encore of Faster than the Setting Sun before disappearing over the horizon - or in this case behind a chimneyed backdrop - leaving behind an adoring flock less likely to find poetry in an empty coke can than simply unsightly litter.
If Dangerfield was the fish and chips, the candyfloss was provided by support act Colin MacLeod, aka The Boy Who Trapped the Sun, a talented 25-year-old songwriter from the Outer Hebrides. Snapped up by Universal two years ago, TBWTTS (please boy, get another name) played four tracks from his album Fireplace, accompanied by a cellist, with the single Dreaming Like A Fool the highlight. All pleasant enough until this wistful guitarist gave us the low down on stories of axes under the bed and ex-girlfriends trying to stab him. After finishing Watermark he became concerned the audience thought him weird. Not a dickybird from the Leeds lot. Weird he wasn't but his folky arpeggios with a hint of country and blues come across better live than they do on record, although he needs a bit more ammunition than a breathy Damien Rice voice to blow a hole in a market jam-packed with singer song writers.
No, the night belonged to Fyfe. Constantly reworking his own material for the stage, bringing out hidden melodies to familiar songs, Dangerfield provides good value in these hard times. As the saying goes: Never knowingly undersold.