Stornoway, London Roundhouse, gig review: 'This humble band's strengths lie in stripped down simplicity'

Unplugged sea shanty 'Josephine' reveals Stornoway's rawer talent

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The Independent Culture

Raucous cheers are notably absent as this unassuming quartet take to the stage at Camden's iconic Roundhouse.

This is a 'nice' crowd for a 'nice' band and opener “When You Are Feeling Gentle” is underwhelming, but come the upbeat 'Lost Youth', proceeded by some endearing chat from lead singer Brian Briggs, feet are tapping and the lacklustre vibe starts buzzing a tad.

Despite richly-textured instrumental strength, Stornoway, for the most part, lack the abandoned, hoe-down 'oomph' of Mumford and Sons.

At times, notably during “The Road You Didn't Take”, their gentle sound swerves dangerously close to falling into the depths of forgettable dirge, but the likes of “You Take Me As I Am” and “I Saw You Blink” are merrier and the atmosphere lifts.

It is during unplugged sea shanty “Josephine” that the crowd catches a glimpse of where this band's too often hidden strengths lie. Refreshing in its stripped-down simplicity, all focus is honed onto some damn impressive harmonising.

“Zorbing” and “Battery Human” are crowd pleasers, while new track “Love Song of the Beta Male” involves some fun, again very 'nice', clicking and clapping audience participation.

Named after a small, little talked of town in Scotland, this humble four-piece seem to be living up to their origins. Whether they have the desire, grit and passion to ever make a real impact remains doubtful, yet possible.