Guile – Birmingham – live review

Birmingham, The Flapper
2 June 2012

Faced with a difficult crowd Guile turn their psychedelic garage rock into a call to arms, giving a blistering set of passion and noise this week in Birmingham.

Guile’s return to the Midlands should have been a celebration of the official release of their excellent Alone On The West album. Perhaps it was the Bank Holiday, or the Jubilee, or the football on TV, but tonight Guile faced an unusually diffident crowd. What we got was less of a celebration and more a stubborn statement of intent from Guile, who responded to the lethargic crowd with a set of snarling songs that howl and bite.

Almost appropriately, they kick off with new song You Kill, We Dream, a thundering slab of garage rock that seems to draw an aural line in the sand; you are either with us, or against us.

Frontman Neal Sawyer can be by turns genial and warm hearted, or a desolate iconoclast, but back Guile into a corner and you will get black hearted blues, delivered with fiery passion.

Guile – Birmingham – live review

I Walk Alone builds from a brooding rumble into a showcase for Jon Sawyer’s eviscerating lead guitar, that is a trademark of Guile’s psychedelic garage blues always present, adding layers to the songs but never overbearing.

Tearing through the stripped down rock n roll album opener Reprobate Lover, Guile generate a raw punk energy and raging vocal delivery as Neal declares “this town is falling apart”. If anyone was in any doubt, it’s clear that Guile are coming out fighting.

As if to emphasise the fact, next track up is Red Mist perhaps the heaviest of Guile’s new material anyway, but tonight itís swinging baseball bats at the audience while Neal appears to have been gargling with razor blades.

Much of the album is also given an airing with Lies Against Hell and a stretched out Deep By The Dockery faring particularly well, before the title track of the album, closes the main set.

Always a highlight, tonight Alone On The West really does stun the audience. With Neal abandoning his guitar, while brother Jon cranks up a wall of thrashing white noise, to hang off the mike stand and scream out the lyrics with increasing desperation, only abandoning the mic to tear down the incongruous Jubilee bunting strung across the stage, before Guile exit in a cacophony of feedback.

There is no encore. There is no need.

With this band you have to take sides. Guile already have.

All words and images by macthehack. 

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Part time punk (retired), sometime freelance scribbler on music, sport and television, when not trying to hold down a day job. Jaundiced views and biased rants available on an irregular basis at


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