Having seen Stornoway in an array of settings it was a blessing for both travel expenses and local fans to see the quartet perform at the prestigious Oxford Town Hall. This seemed the perfect venue for the band’s homecoming gig during a lengthy tour of the UK. It really allowed them to utilise the hall for all of its quirks. Everyone was excitedly waiting to hear new songs from Tales From Terra Firma, the hotly-anticpated follow-up to their acclaimed debut, Beachcomber’s Windowsill.
Stornoway took to the stage and gave their all, performing a mixture of old and new songs and repeatedly winning the crowd’s hearts. ‘The Bigger Picture’, one single to be found on their new album, was a hit with the audience and will clearly level with old numbers like ‘Fuel Up’. Frontman Brian Briggs was brave enough to play an unplugged ‘November Song’ to the crowd, who silently watched and listened with open ears – a humbling, gorgeous track.
The first few syncopated notes of ‘Zorbing’ made the crowd buzz with excitement, yelling the line, “Zorbing through the streets of Cowley”, as though to applaud the band for penning such localised lyrics.
The band then left the stage, making the crowd clap and shout in hope of more songs. In true Coldplay fashion, the band exited only to appear at the other side of the hall on the balcony, equipped with a double bass, violin and guitar. This was a truly moving moment during their set, with the whole audience watching as the band showed off their talents with stunning group harmonies. Afterwards, a spotlight followed the band off the balcony and the audience was again left in waiting.
Keyboardist Jon Ouin walked onto the stage, climbed up to the hall organ and played a dramatic solo to which the crowd responded with a raucous applaud. Shortly afterwards, Rob Steadman followed on the drums, Oli Steadman on bass, and finally Brian on guitar, and a huge cacophony of sound suddenly snapped into ‘I Saw You Blink.’ It had the crowd jumping and shouting with enthusiasm once again.
It is safe to say that no matter how many times you see Stornoway perform, they will always surprise and amaze you with innovative ways of performing and keeping the energy alive. I cannot wait for their new album to hit the shelves in March.