Stornoway. 27.2.17. The Sage.


Some memories, the ones you want to forget, never seem to leave.  For me that would be the memory of someone important who was there one moment and gone the next.  It’s the memory of a breakup, and the worst kind, the kind I never saw coming.

As I’ve matured I’ve come to understand that not all memories of a breakup need to be forgotten.  Some break ups can, in fact, be the most mature and sensible thing for adults who love each other, but want different things out of life, to do.

Along a similar train of thought, and after almost 12 years together, nice guys Stornoway brought their breakup tour to the Sage for the start of what would be their last ever shows.  Proving, as they have across their time together, that music that moves you doesn’t need to be square-jawed and sensible, the ‘Ways strike a chord in their audience by proving that their entire catalogue comprises of lovingly arranged, deeply emotive, brilliant songs.  Neither pessimistic nor miserable, the Stornoway’s have always been able to create songs that have that hard to capture blend of sadness and joyfulness wrapped together.

Live, lead singer Brian Briggs delivers a vocal similar in style and substance to Tim Booth, using howls and spikes to add emotional force to his emotive lyrics.  Backed by some serious musicianship, the band offer a depth of sound which includes pianos, violins, mandolins, banjos, polystyrene and hammers.  Three acoustic tracks provide the heart of the evening, ‘Josephine’ is beautiful, but an almost acapella version of ‘Get Low’ is spellbinding and is credited with a worthy, and lengthy, ovation.  Tight, brotherly, four piece vocal harmonies with lyrics ‘Keep dreaming, gotta play to be in the game, when you’ve got a goal, when you’ve got a plan, there’s still time’ seem so, painfully, ironic and sad.

There’s no tears.  We don’t want tears. But we do want memories, the good ones, the ones that will never seem to leave.

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