Review: Stornoway, Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Paul Weller

REVIEW: Paul Weller at The Brighton Centre

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When singer Brian Briggs and the rest of the band were looking for a name, they wanted something ‘that sounded a bit distant and remote and coastal’ and Stornoway fitted the bill perfectly.

Luckily it also fits their music which can be windswept and bleak on occasions but uplifting and beautiful on others.

Hailing not from the Scottish Hebrides, but from Oxford, Stornoway are on the road to plug Tales From Terra Firma, their current release that makes a mockery of ‘difficult second album’ syndrome.

The songs match the quality showcased on their 2010 debut, Beachcomber’s Windowsill, whether their mood is bouncy folk or brittle acoustic.

It’s probably a while since the Wedge saw anything resembling a string section (possibly My Life Story in their heyday) but Stornoway not only used violin, mandolin and double bass to good effect but added in a trumpet, an indeterminate percussion thingy and, er, a saw and block of wood – as well as guitar, keyboard and drums.

From the foot-stomping of Fuel Up and Watching Birds through the jazzy lounge approach of Farewell Appalachia to the pared down, unamplified harmonies of The Ones You Hurt The Most, Stornoway proved to be every bit as alluring as their famous geographical namesake.