By Paul Norris
Indie folk outfit Stornoway provide a magnificently intimate set at Gorilla following the release of their third album Bonxie last month. The album is a continuation of the organic and wholesome sound that typifies Stornoway and opener ‘Between the Saltmarsh and the Sea’ from the new album starts with an intriguing boat horn and develops into a warm and uplifting ballad. From this point it is clear how well Stornoway engage with the audience with their heartfelt connectivity blended with just a hint of Southern-English polite humour, mostly in the form of jokes about birds.
However, it is not until their older song ‘Boats and Trains’ that the audience comes alive with seemingly everyone singing along to the slow tempo number, a song that demonstrates the purity of singer and guitarist Brian Briggs’s voice. ‘The Road You Didn’t Take’ is a stand out song from the new record with stripped back acoustic guitar and wonderful harmonies building into a full singalong for the crowd.
Unlike many gigs there wasn’t a dip in energy through the middle of the set and in fact, perhaps the best moment came during this period as the band put down their instruments and gathered around one microphone to perform an absolutely stunning rendition of ‘Josephine’. With simply a guitar and vocal harmonies the folksy love song oozes intimacy and shows how accomplished the whole band are as musicians. The mood continues with older songs ‘Fuel Up’ and ‘Zorbing’ that are still fresh and are wonderful singalongs. The crowd are then treated to a somewhat tongue-in-cheek cover of Yazz’s ‘The Only Way Is Up’ to round off a truly fantastic set, which should only signal continued success for the Oxford band.