Saturday 11 March 2017

LIVE: Stornoway at Shepherd's Bush Empire (10/03/17)

With a career as a band spanning ten years, you know it's got to be good when the lead singer says that the gig has been the best of his life. Last night I feel incredibly lucky to have caught Stornoway playing the penultimate show of their farewell tour, a sold out London show at O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire. It's been a sad few years for favourite bands of mine parting ways (think Noah & The Whale, Dry The River, Bombay Bicycle Club...) but last night was, I think, the first ever 'farewell' show I've been to. The band's lead singer told us all at the start of the set that it wasn't going to be a sad night, though emotions were running pretty high from crowd and band alike!

Kicking off the evening in style were the tour support Brasstronaut, a band from Vancouver who I hadn't listened to before the show but was super impressed by, a perfect upbeat start to the show. Their self titled album was released back in Feb - check it out on Spotify here and a recent video for Hawk below!

Before the Stornoway chaps took the stage, their violinist Susie Attwood started off first album track The Coldharbour Road with a stunning solo which I couldn't help but tear up to. Performing a mix of tracks from their three brilliant records, the set was a roaring success and the band had the crowd eating from the palm of their hands, with endless rounds of applause filling the room after each track, at which points it was clear just how amazed the band were to be playing the show.

Perhaps the most impressive point of the set, the band left Brian alone on stage to perform November Song. Unplugging his guitar and stepping back from the mic, he performed the track totally unamplified to an adoring 2000-strong crowd. You could hear a pin drop, and the band returned to perform a couple more tracks unplugged, Get Low and Josephine. It says quite a lot about the band and the respect of their audience that they could do that - and it was beautiful, and, of course, met with rapturous applause after each song!

The soundtrack to my recent library sessions has mostly been either Stornoway or 80s playlists (which require a lot of self control to not break out and sing to...) and a couple of tracks later the band combined the two with a super fun cover of Simple Minds' Don't You Forget About Me. (We won't!) Think Mexican waves. In fact - you don't have to imagine as someone has uploaded a video of the cover from the recent Manchester show! With library sessions and my dissertation in mind, I had to record The Great Procrastinator - a track I think most of us can probably relate to! The band finished up the set with the only track they really could, Zorbing, releasing a bunch of beach balls (mini zorbs?) onto the crowd (video) - lots of fun!

The farewell tour rolls into Oxford tomorrow night for another long sold out show at New Theatre, by the end of which I predict there won't be a dry eye in sight. The hometown crowd have got a lot to live up to to match the awesome London crowd last night - but I'm certain Oxford will pull it out the bag for their beloved band! Holding out for my favourite song from the band The Ones We Hurt The Most.... just saying (though last night's set list was pretty spot on!) 

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