By Tom Fake
December 10, 2013
There are few better ways to spend your Friday night than watching a great band. Chances are, if you’ve found your way to Muso’s Guide, you’ll probably agree with this statement. And so I arrive at The Globe, a quaint little venue that was once a cinema, in high spirits looking forward to a night of music.
It’s not long before Stornoway take to the stage. The stage itself is cluttered with a vast amount instruments; I count a banjo, violin, trumpet, 12-string guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, double bass, drums, 3 synths and 2 keyboards on a stage that just about has the room for them.
The sound of Stornoway’s more recent work, Tales From Terra Firma and new EP You Don’t Know Anything, has really developed, becoming more experimental. Kicking off with a soundscape that included the clink of bassist Oli‘s beer bottle, an axe on wood and the tearing of the Independent’s The I newspaper. This soundscape quickly turns into opening track ‘Farewell Appalachia’. The first few tracks, taken from their latest album, really show off the bands more adventurous songwriting styles with a wide variety of textures, rhythms and dynamics.
The band soon settle down and lead singer Brian Briggs introduces ‘I Saw You Blink’, to which everyone in the venue seems to knows the words. In the breakdown we see lead singer Brian Briggs’ playful side, singing lines from Welsh acts Manic Street Preachers (‘Motorcycle Emptiness’), Catatonia (‘Road Rage’) and Tom Jones (‘It’s Not Unusual’, ‘Sex Bomb’) over the song.
Slowing things down over the next few tracks, it is noticeable that the differing style of the bands two albums come together well in their set list. Their sound is fantastic, and you can tell that they are enjoying it as much as the eager crowd. ‘Boats and Trains’ is followed by ‘The Ones We Hurt The Most’, with an unforgettable violin part played by Susie Attwood that is complimented by picked guitar and unison vocals from Briggs and keyboard player/multi-instrumentalist Jon Ouin.
Fuelled by “kebabs and juice” from the “Stornoway Christmas party” down Cardiff’s Chippy Alley earlier in the day, they play ‘Fuel Up’, another song to spark a sing-along, before the band leave the stage for Brian to play a solo, unamplified version of ‘November Song’. The unamplified theme continues as the band reemerges with new track ‘Josephine’, which has beautiful full-band harmonies and alternative resistance song “We Are The Battery Human”. Here Brian Briggs jokingly apologises for so many guitar changes, saying that it is to stop him getting “guitar nipple” from the constant rubbing of his guitar. This may sound odd out of context, but Briggs’ frequent humour is warmly received by the crowd throughout.
The band soon plug back in and “pump it up” with ‘Watching Birds’ before leaving the stage to wait for the customary encore. Before too long they appear again to loud applause and play ‘You Take Me As I Am’, which is as flawless as the rest of the set. Briggs then bids the crowd farewell and starts the final two songs. ‘The Great Procrastinator’ is a fantastic track that shows off session musician Tom Hodgson‘s trumpet playing, and again with closing track, crowd favourite ‘Zorbing’.
Stornoway could not have made a better account of themselves here. They played a tight set that showed off their own musical abilities and encourages you to go out and buy their records. Their attitude is also spot on, coming straight out to see the fans and sign any scrap of paper handed to them whilst chatting away, which is refreshing for a band of growing popularity. This is truly a great way to spend an evening.