Stornoway are on the cusp of big things. The Badger chatted to Brian Briggs, the Oxford group’s lead singer, before the band took to the stage, in front of a sell-out crowd in Komedia’s large main room. The band has recently embarked on only their second full-length UK tour; this most recent jaunt is under the direction of Twisted Folk – known for their brilliantly eclectic lineups – and sees Stornoway supported by foxes! and Beth Jeans Houghton.
Because there is so much music around these days, originality is a scarce commodity: I’m not about to pretend that foxes! are anything entirely original, but their performance was massively refreshing. They just don’t care: they mix genres, sounds and instruments that shouldn’t be allowed to go to together, creating a pastiche of all the best bits of contemporary music, in short and sometimes chaotic songs.
In between foxes! and the next support act, I asked Briggs about the band’s elusive debut album. According to the man himself it’s 99.9 percent finished, with the band just now applying the finishing touches to the artwork, and finalizing track listings.
It looks set to be a busy summer for the band – Briggs tentatively mentioned March or April as the album’s release date, and hinted that the band has been in demand for the upcoming festival season.
Beth Jeans Houghton took the middle slot and entertained the crowd not only with her flamboyant stage presence, but also with understated and brilliant songs.
Stornoway had seemed remarkably relaxed, but as they took the stage, the pressure was visibly on. They were greeted with so many photographers’ lenses and so much expectation, it wasn’t by any means unreasonable that the band be nervous; particularly as they are only on their second tour. So far, the mainstream music press have been unusually slow in responding to the band, but they have garnered deserved support from the broadsheets. Apparently a Guardian journalist was there to watch the band, which could only have added to the pressure (I think I spotted him – after much looking around – spectacles, trenchcoat, suit, scarf, middle-aged and alone). But the band held their own: they were absolutely brilliant. They grew in confidence and played through their strong stable of songs – many I had not yet heard, but all I thoroughly enjoyed. The band are individually very talented musicians, and each song was the product of thoughtful orchestration.
I asked Briggs about the band’s recent performance on Jools Holland – he said that he had only been able to enjoy it once it was over, but that it was an amazing, if nerve-wracking, experience. Let’s hope that once this tour is over, and the album is released, Stornoway can begin to enjoy the success they deserve