There is something very special about Stornoway, and it is hard to put your finger on. I will try.
A big part of their appeal is the way they make you feel. There is something romantic in their music. The matter that dominates their subjects is naïve and unaffected. Coming from almost anyone else in the world their songs would feel contrived and overly sentimental, but Stornoway have a delivery that is touching, and makes you nod in agreement and furrow your brow in understanding. There is no platform on which this feeling is better conveyed than on stage.
I saw them on the last night of their UK tour – Barbican, London. Like every other time I have seen them, they were brilliant. The set was a mixture of loud rocky climaxes, extremely quiet and heartfelt acoustic songs and slow chugging numbers that glide along like being in the back seat of a warm car at night.
A period of about 4 songs in the middle of the set when the band played unplugged was a particular treat. It was here that a pair of crazed women decided to get up from their seats and spectacularly inappropriately dance, jump and clap along to the pin-drop quiet rendition of the captivating Battery Human. I like funny things, so I laughed a lot, but I don’t think it went down that well with most people. The peak ofI Saw You Blink was prolonged to give a firework ending, and Nadine Shah (the excellent support act) joined the band for The Great Procrastinator and it worked fantastically well. These were just a few notable highlights in a set that was totally engaging all the way through.
Listening to Stornoway is a bit like eating organic vegetables, and I say this in as positive and enthusiastic way possible. You feel happy about where they are coming from, they make you feel good about yourself and there is a purity and wholesomeness. They are not trying to be cool, or to fit some kind of musical stereotype, and I think that this is what people like about them. They also happen write some absolutely beautiful songs. Both of their two albums are real pieces of art, and take you through exciting, emotional and euphoric journeys. Their live performance is much the same. I left the show with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. That is a remarkable thing for music to be able to do to you.