O2 Academy, Hotham Street
9th November 2010

Reviewed by James Whitlock

I attended the Stornoway concert at the O2 Academy in Liverpool on 9th November having visited the venue for the first time. I have visited the O2 Academy in Birmingham, which is a converted nightclub, but the Liverpool venue is very different. It is a lot smaller with far fewer seats and is more intimate as a result.

Stornoway came on stage about 8.30 pm. They are from Oxford and have recently released their debut album Beachcomber’s Windowsill. The album has generally had good reviews. It takes its title from the fact that is a collection of songs on which the band has been working over the last few years. They have been categorised as folk/rock but other listeners may disagree with this categorisation.

Whilst being a fan of the album, I confess that I did not know that much about the band before the gig. I first heard them live when I downloaded songs they played at the London iTunes Festival earlier this year.

Though initially quiet, the gig later became packed out. A few songs stood out: We Are The Battery Human in particular, which is about how we all need to get out more and discover the natural world due to the fact that technology is now such a big part of our lives.

Whilst I enjoyed the gig, I agreed with some comments that have been made by a BBC reviewer attending a different concert. The gig was too loud for such a subtle album. Much of the subtle instrumentation and vocals of the album were consistently overpowered by the drums and general loudness of the gig.

I am not a music buff and many who attended may disagree with me. However, this did not get in the way of a great gig. One song was performed entirely unplugged. Another was greatly enhanced by a small string section.

The gig ended with Zorbing, which had a great response from the crowd, but it was fairly short at around an hour, although it was greatly enjoyable nonetheless. I shall be going back to the Academy to see Blancmange in March, but shall hopefully return before then. Hopefully I can see Stornoway again soon.

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