Stornoway at Rough Trade East
Oxford-based alt indie/folk band Stornoway released their second album, Tales from Terra Firma, on Monday, nearly three years after their debut Beachcomber’s Windowsill stormed to a top 15 position in the UK charts. To celebrate the release the band performed a free gig at Rough Trade East.
Unlike other sardine-tin record shops, Rough Trade East is positively cavernous, closer to a moderately-sized music venue than a humble, independent music shop.
Despite this, the gig still had the intimate, slightly candid feeling of a small event attended by hardcore fans. The band kicked things off with a number typical of their sound: drums jogging along at a comfortable pace with wistful lyrics and melodies chiming together beautifully. If you could bottle nostalgia and sell it, Stornoway would be the faces for the ad campaign.
The second track, Knock Me on the Head, was altogether more upbeat, with playful metaphors adding to the childlike feeling of joy. In between songs, frontman Brian Briggs cut a nervous, almost self-deprecating figure. He stuttered his way through the interludes, recounting inane stories from the band’s current tour. It was comical and brought laughs from the crowd, oiling the wheels of the performance.
The third track was another sepia-toned atmospheric number with interesting poly-rhythms and a minimal guitar riff keeping things ticking over. They segued straight into their hit single Zorbing which brought whoops and cheers from the crowd. It’s a catchy number that had the audience tapping their feet. But that was as rowdy as it got – there was no visible dancing or jumping around.
Stornoway’s music employs a mixture of delicate harmonies and escapist lyrics that transport you to a rural idyll from a bygone era that never really existed. Their look is suitably rustic and understated – there’s no pomp or pretence, which is certainly refreshing. It’s perhaps all a bit safe though: it’s the sort of gig you would be happy to take both your gran and small children to.
For further information and future events visit Stornoway’s website here.
Watch the video for Knock Me On The Head here: