The formidable and naturalistic STORNOWAY returned to Exeter Phoenix on March 2nd for what was officially the last time, we were there to capture the action.....
The opening act BRASSTRONAUT are a six piece jazz-rock ensemble hailing from Vancouver Canada. Their heady fusion of brass and sometimes electronica were an unexpected pleasure as they warmed up the audience, ahead of STORNOWAY's final Exeter performance at the Phoenix.
With trumpet player Brian Davies cementing the foundation of their brass roots, Edo Van Breeman carried the vocals on keyboards admirably. A short set of 30 mins was enough though for these transatlantic visitors to win over the crowd with some funky riffs and bellows..
Into the final few dates of their farewell tour after a stellar and critically acclaimed 10 years, STORNOWAY took to the stage with their blend of indie folk pop, to the delight and despair of an adoring audience. With their familiar air of unassuming cult status and peerless musicianship the 90 mins set left no-one in doubt, this was a night to retell down the generations.
Heavily bearded frontman Brian Briggs, putting across the image of a man who has grown into a new life beyond music graciously enjoyed his career final curtain. Moving from songs like THE GREAT PROCRASTINATOR and FAREWELL APPALACHIA to a cover of SIMPLE MINDS DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME, the audience sang along word perfect. Closing the show with LOVE SONG OF THE BETA MALE and ZORBING among others fans pleaded for more as a nervous anticipation of closure closed in.
With the band members moving onto personal pursuits inside and outside the music industry this chapter has ended. As the band left the stage and the house lights went up, we all took a final glimpse at the BONXIE bird hanging next to the STORNOWAY sail with a lump in our throats.
Brian, Oli, Rob and Jon will very shortly be STORNOWAY no more. Just like their namesake across the sea in a far flung part of our isles, they remain unspoilt by overexposure, and subtly beautiful in their natural environment. If you weren’t there you should’ve been. If like me you were, camera in hand, cherish those memories.
Review and Photography by Mark Tipping - © www.marktippingphotography.com