Going back to last Saturday, I took a quick detour down to Philly to see what the lads of Stornoway are up to. They are gaining new fans across the U.S. on their first extensive tour of our great land. This is in support of their brilliant debut album, Beachcomber's Windowsill. I saw them over the summer on their first U.S. visit. Now, they are an even better live band, more loose and vibrant. All those first visit jitters are gone. What's still the same is lead singer Brian Brigg's commanding voice and dry sense of humor.
While most of the U.K. bands I cling to are from city folk from London or Manchester, Stornoway has captured the rollicking hills and wide open spaces of the English countryside. In songs like Watching Birds and I Saw You, you find a sense of adventure that makes them endearing. They don't veer too heavily into the folk territory, but they find a balance to the traditional and the modern sounds with a few production tricks.
Now that I've seen them twice, I can see how they are more comfortable on stage. They did their two-song encore, The End of the Movie and We Are the Battery Human, sans microphone, which just won me over big time. With Briggs willing to chat-up the crowd about random thoughts in his head, it makes more of a enjoyable time. This is the band's first visit to Philly, which prompted Briggs to rattle off what the city if known for -- cheese steaks and cheese cake. Now exactly, he was probably thinking the Philadelphia brand of cream cheese. "We had some excellent Mexican food, even though you are not known for that." He also injected some random facts about the cities the band has visited. Philly invented the Slinky, Minneapolis invented the stapler.
Indie rocks utility man Franz Nicolay and his moustache has been tagging along this tour. Do you think he does that stupid thing hipsters do in their Facebook photos where they put a fake handlebar moustache to their face?
In any event, he spent the summer playing keyboards with Against Me! and now is back playing his own sea-farring tunes. I'm pretty sure the man can make a song out of any subject.