What a joy it is to witness a set with so many high points that it’s almost impossible to remember any of the lows. How refreshing it is to watch and listen to a band whose foremost priority is to entertain their ticket buying audience. And, how absolutely satisfying it is to have experienced an evening of music that will live with those in attendance long into the coming dark and cold autumnal months.
Stornoway and the Camden Roundhouse (and their Summer Sessions) were the two halves of a coming-together that proved to be one of the most memorable gigs of 2014. An effortless journey through songs old and songs new that elevated a regular school night into the giddy realms of utter joy and harmony. The Camden Roundhouse remains the most seductive of London music venues and its glorious Victorian architecture and the headline act complimented each other perfectly.
The set was incredibly strong. Everyone has their favourites of course but it would have been impossible to pick a winner from the likes of ‘Fuel Up’, ‘The Coldharbour Road’ or ‘We are the Battery Human’. If this was to be decided by means of an egg and spoon race, sack race etc. then ‘Zorbing’ may have just taken it on the line. It was a quite stunning rendition of the bands biggest track and seemed to give those audience members, still leant against pillars or moping about the bar, the required jolt to come and join the party, so to speak. However, there was better to come.
If you are of an eccentric nature (yellow and green tweed suit with matching waistcoat, well fitted beret and with a penchant for Liebfraumilch) and would pay the entrance fee to see just a single moment of magic then I would suggest ‘Josephine’ is that moment. Without doubt it was the highlight from this impressive set. Broadcast to the audience acoustically, with even the microphones turned off, this sea shanty was the definition of utter beauty. Rightfully it received the loudest applause of the evening and showcased the wealth of talent this remarkable group of gentlemen possess.
A special mention should go out to lead singer Brian Briggs and his excellent story telling. In a similar vain to Samantha Crain (see previous write up) he breaks up the set with fantastic stories of previous tours, the Welsh rugby team and the tale of a man who pushed a sprout up Snowdonia with his nose.
If you have the opportunity to see Stornoway live then don’t hesitate. While it may not be in such ravishing surroundings as the Roundhouse you’ll still see a spellbinding performance.
I don’t grade gigs as a rule as alcohol, and good company, can sometimes turn a bad performance into an average one, and sometimes an average performance into a really good one (5/5 … bugger … you didn’t see that OK?). However, the test of a great gig is how you feel the next morning. I’m currently sat here listening to 2010’s ‘Beachcombers Windowsill’ when I should really be writing up my review for the new ‘Merchandise’ LP. Respectfully, they will just have to wait. That is the definition of a good gig. Bravo Stornoway…bravo.