Yes, the saw.
Steadman bowed a saw during one song, while Briggs actually SAWED a piece of wood for sound effects during another. (I once saw Iceland’s Múm play a bucket of water, but the double-saw action trumps that. Particularly when Briggs actually and accidentally sawed completely through his wood chunk during the track.)
It’d be tempting to dismiss the band as being twee: beardy lead singer Brian Briggs has a kind of Englishnerdypolitesweet between-song banter that included a rundown of the weird drinks they now like to experiment with whilst in Vancouver – last time was Bubble tea, this time a beet-ginger thing – and drummer Rob and brother Oli on bass were wearing blue and green face paint. PLUS they have a banjo and a violinist on the side. But let’s not, okay? Because Stornoway are actually GOOD. They can actually play – one, three, 15 different instruments – and their harmonies are swoony.
Stornoway play the kind of really pretty, breezy UK folkpop stuff that makes Sunday mornings tolerable. And on this night, gigging for a partly sozzled jersey-wearing, post-Vancouver-Canucks-Stanley-Cup-Playoff-Game hockey-win group, they made a Wednesday night truly lovely.
Highlights? When Brian Briggs asked the audience for silence and tolerance (and, eventually, got it) so he could unleash a new track called “The Bigger Picture” (coded as “B.P. Oil Spill” on Ouin’s set list below, watch the video, thanks to Peter Leung) sung entirely off-mic and acoustically. The crowd responded so well, that “The End of the Movie” was also performed unplugged, as was the absolutely stonking encore – love this song -”We Are the Battery Human”. “Zorbing” sounded predictably beautiful and fun, as did opener “I Saw You Blink.” Other highlights included chatting with the Brothers Steadman post-show and teaching them how to do the rockhands. “I mean, for fuck’s sake, you’re a drummer” I said, shortly after telling him he was a brilliant drummer. (He is.) “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” the tipsy blonde next to Rob, lurched, “LOOK AT HIM! HE’S ALSO FUCKING HOT!” He laughed. I’m thinking he gets that a lot. He is fucking hot. But that’s neither here nor there, because one of the coolest things about him is HE CAN PLAY A SAW.
Stornoway’s debut album is Beachcomber’s Windowsill on 4AD and you can consider that link back there a secret decoder ring to help you decipher the set list below. Enjoy the pics and video, friends. \m/
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