Stornaway @ Somerset House, 9 July 2011

Stornaway

Cloud Control

Words by Becky Glass
Photos by Anika Oehme
In the courtyard of Somerset House, overlooked by history, politics and a lazy Union Jack flag, another Summer Series evening went fabulously well on 9 July.
Award-winning Aussies Cloud Control got things off to a dynamic start. Despite an initial guitar malfunction, the drum-beat fanfares, stirring harmonies and formidable tambourine of ‘Gold Canary’, ‘There’s Nothing In The Water’ and ‘This Is What I Said’ got feet tapping and heads nodding without trouble.

Framed by blue sky, glowing rooftops and seagulls above the peaked stage, even those less inclined to enjoy the quirky foursome looked charmed at the end of the set.

Surroundings like these – not to mention the three thousand-strong crowd – would be intimidating by anyone’s standards. But, as soon as Stornoway took to the stage, frontman Brian Briggs’s clear, earnest vocals and the band’s dappled layers of sound had a spectacular effect, lighting up the space with pure enthusiasm.

 

It becomes clear that Stornoway have a real passion for their music, as the soft, poignant openings of ‘Fuel Up’ and ‘The Coldharbour Road’ quickly, enthusiastically plunge into soaring choruses backed by the entire crowd, and as new songs ‘When You Touch Down From Outer Space’ and ‘The Bigger Picture’ are far from tentative performances, carrying the same buzz as familiar ones.

The sound of every voice belting the encore, ‘Long Distance Lullaby’ and ‘Zorbing’, left Briggs and the other band members looking a little overwhelmed. But it’s that interaction between the layers of instruments and the roaring crowd that is exceptional: an ability to use the audience as part of their music, rather than as a backing track.

 These songs exist in a rare balance – they’re personal, introspective and entirely uplifting all at once. It comes as no surprise that theirs is an utterly feelgood show, completely worthy of the stunning setting.

Every bit as comfortable in larger venues as in small, their transcendent moments were as much in crowd choruses as in solos. But above all, their talent lies in the fluid way they switch between the two – which places them firmly ahead of their more derivative, less passionate nu-folk rivals.

Published by Francesca Baker

Passionate about music, the world, exploring, literature and smiling. Writing, marketing and events for all my favourite things.

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