Sunday, 10 July 2011

Stornoway at Somerset House

'I'm not the most relaxed I've ever been, not just because we're next to the Inland Revenue', Brian Briggs, lead singer, relates to the audience of 3000 packed into the courtyard of Somerset House. But there's no sign of his nervousness in his singing - his voice soars over the harmonies without missing a note, and in the case of 'The Bigger Picture' it cast enraptured silence over the crowd. However, there were also moments that got everybody singing along; cue 'Watching Birds' - a fast paced, uplifing tune that you can't help but belt your heart out to.
     We were also treated to some new songs amongst the old favourites. 'When You Touch Down From Outerspace' is a jaunty song about aliens landing in Oxfordshire. With its fun lyrics, and catchy hooks it was sure to be a crowd-pleaser, and judging from all the wooping at the end, the audience were fans.

'Farewell Appalachia!', by contrast offered a more mellow sound - Brian's haunting voice was so beautiful, and the setting of Somerset House illuminated in the darkness seemed a perfect atmosphere for the song.

Adam casually sawing away in the background

It was not Brian alone that made it such a magical night though. The band were joined on stage by the North Sea Radio Orchestra, who provided beautiful introductions for several of the songs along with Rahul on the violin. Jon's little jaunt on the banjo was cheerful, Oli's playing of the double bass was gentle but powerful (I once read somewhere that he played his bass 'like a melody instrument' and I completely agree with that); and Rob's steady drumming kept everything driving along. He even produced the infamous saw at one point in 'Beachcomber's Windowsill' and played it with a violin bow much to the delight of the audience. Even Adam took a break from the trumpet at one point to saw a plank of wood - a talking point, but perhaps not a particularly strong musical feature. Nonetheless, Stornoway's rich variety of instruments added depth and interest to each song, in particular 'On The Rocks' which although I have to say is one of my least favourite songs on the album, proved to be a lot more exciting live thanks to Rahul's catchy violin playing halfway through.
     After some quieter, more sensitive songs, and a couple of technical hitches, the evening ended on a high with a rendition of 'Zorbing'. It's extremely difficult not to sing along and feel happy, especially when the trumpet comes in. So overall a wonderful evening, and if you haven't yet checked out Stornoway I definitely recommend that you do.

 Read my interview with Rob Steadman (drummer) from Stornoway here, or visit their  website:

Rob caught mid-swish. Dare I say that he seems to be channeling a bit of Jedward?!


  1. I actually left you a comment but it looks like it didn´t quite work... :S
    Anyway, love your review! And I completely and totally agree with what you said about "On The Rocks". It´s definitely not my favourite on the album but that song was simply amazing last Saturday!
    Caroline xx

  2. Looks like an awesome time! It's so great that your favorite band also resides in your home country and thus it is more simple to go see their concerts. I like how your wrote your review!!

  3. thanks for your comments guys :)
    Dahl: aha yep it definitely makes things a lot more simple, though it seems to me that they spend more time on tour abroad, than in Britain, which is annoying :s but hopefully I will be going to see them on their home turf (in Oxford) in September, fingers crossed!
    Flora x

  4. I'm so jel! I really wanted to see The Hurts as well but I missed it, went to Ellie Goulding instead :) I must agree with you about the Rob/Jedward hair, sad but true! E xxx

  5. aha luckily the Jedward hair only lasted a split-second!

  6. Gorgeous pics, bring back memories of an amazing gig, love them!


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