Guillemots, The Ritz, Manchester

Reminiscent of a classical performance - on bourbon and cigarettes - the minimal set, filled with moody blue lights, and a cluttered stage area, is symbolic of the band's ethic.

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Date: 10 Mar 2008 | By Martin Guttridge-Hewitt | Rating: 4
Guillemots, The Ritz, Manchester

In an almost operatic style Guillemots take to the stage at Manchester's legendary Ritz to wow the thousands in attendance with their intriguing mix of emotive harmonies, lyrical prowess and thought provoking musical arrangements.

Reminiscent of a classical performance - on bourbon and cigarettes - the minimal set, filled with moody blue lights, and a cluttered stage area, is symbolic of the band's ethic of letting the music doing the talking. Whilst promoting tracks from their new album 'Red', such as the rather intimidating opener, 'Kriss Kross', it is the familiar and wholly more melancholic sound that prevails throughout the hour-long set.

Highlights appear in the shape of a theatrical rendition of 'Sao Paulo', that serves not only to silence the venue, but also to confirm the band's status as one of the few acts that can engage big crowds, in big venues, with quiet and melodic music - an impressive feat. Firm favourites 'Trains To Brazil' and 'Made Up Lovesong 43' are used to full effect, ensuring that from the balcony it's possible to observe the embracing couples present within the confines of an overtly packed main floor. The kind of big room intimacy that is hard to find, but harder to ignore when it happens.

Further upbeat moments came in the shape of 'Annie Let's Not Wait', a member of the same list of anthemic indie choruses as The Killers' 'Indie Rock And Roll' - perfect for performances of this kind. As the night draw to a close, a reprise is offered in the shape of 'Redwings', the lyrics of which - "you know I loved you/but love was not enough" - ensure that the only dry eyes in the house belong to the aurally impaired.

After the show, it is clear on the faces of those present that the band successfully transferred their personal, thoughtful sound onto the stage, and this is where their music excels. A talented group of musicians, from Fyfe Dangerfield's throat-grabbing, eye-watering and heart-rendering lyricism, to the impressive session musicians that join the four-piece on tour. Any opportunity to see them in action should be grabbed with two eager hands, and retained in memory for years to come.