Stornoway, gig review

Barbican, London

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The Independent Culture

Frontman Brian Briggs begins by inexplicably tearing up a newspaper before lending his weedy vocals to “Farewell Appalachia” from this year's mini album You Don't Know Anything.

It's an inauspicious start for this twee (they sing about brooks, gorse and bracken) folk quartet from Oxford on the last date of their tour.

Their second song is the unfortunately titled "Clockwatching" on which Briggs tells us "time drags on" and, well, it does a bit. At least the much-pilloried Mumford & Sons have some memorable tunes. Stornoway are perilously close to folk parody, with Christopher Guest's The Mighty Wind springing to mind. On the upside, their hit "I Saw You Blink" is jaunty and the sea shanty "Josephine" is evocative. But neither song is particularly memorable. None of their tunes stick but their enthused audience don't appear to mind.

"The ones we love the most we hurt the most," Briggs informs us on "The Ones We Hurt the Most" and lyrically this old fashioned skiffle band are consistently platitudinous. They lack a sense of passion, desire, urgency, fury, longing, anything. It's as though rock'n'roll never happened. At one point Briggs tells us how to feel with "This is a sad song" before "November Song". It isn't. It leaves no mark. The whole experience doesn't land one punch.