Stornoway and Sea of Bees in Toronto – A Review

May 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm (Uncategorized)

Snap decisions can sometimes go disastrously wrong. But not always.

I’ve been a fan of Sea of Bees since I heard their cover of “Feliz Navidad” on Mojo’s Christmas compilation, so when I heard a rumour they were playing  Toronto supporting Stornoway, I though I’d get a ticket. trouble was I wasn’t absolutely sure they were opening, and I was only vaguely aware of Stornoway. The guy at Soundscapes convinced me.

Before the show I contacted Sea of Bee’s manager and asked about the possibility of an interview. The details in place, I headed down early to the El Mocambo.

I don’t think I’ve been to the Elmo in about 15 years. The last time was to see Wreckless Eric, and the stage was on the other side.  Unfortunately too, the interview wasn’t possible before the show, but I did get to watch Stornoway’s soundcheck, which was lovely.

Sea of Bees began their set at about 9:15. Sea of Bees is Julie “Jules” Baenziger’s  project, but recently she has been joined by additional guitarist Amber Padgett. And that was the band. Just Jules and Amber on stage in front of some rather lovely red drapes, but within seconds they created an intimate atmosphere which drew in an appreciative audience.

If you pick up the full-length Sea of Bees album Songs for the Ravens, the material has a richer feel, but the stripped-down approach  worked beautifully for the confined quarters of the Elmo.  The band played what seemed like a too-brief a seven song set, Skinnybone, Gnomes, Wizbot, Strikefoot, Marmalade, Sidepain and the Woods, but perhaps they’ll be back to see us soon. 

After the show, I did an interview with Jules and Amber which will appear in this space as soon as I transcribe the tape.

As we were finishing the interview, Stornoway came on stage. After the soundcheck, I’d chatted with a couple of the members of the band. The band is from Cowley, which is just outside Oxford. I lived in a town called Wantage when I was a kid (after 30 minutes from Oxford) and my dad worked in Cowley. Small world. On the strength of the soundcheck, I’d bought their tour EP (it sounded lovely in the car on the way home), so I was very excited about their set.

Like Sea of Bees, Stornoway created an instant rapport with the audience with their mixture of kinetic folk and catchy ballads. Singer Brian Briggs told the crowd that their Toronto show from last year was their favourite gig of the tour, and you might almost believe that wasn’t just flattery. The crowd seemed to soak up every little aspect of the show from the faster singalongs to the quiet intimate moments. It’s something of a tell, that when Briggs asked the audience for quiet during a number, the audience shut up.

The time seemed to fly by. Within what seems liked moments the band were announcing their final number, then a quick two-song encore and it was over.  

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1 Comment

  1. The Lost Sea of Bees Interview « Notes from Underground said,

    […] May I went to see Sea of Bees who opened for Stornoway in […]

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