SMILES, tears and a full on stage invasion ensured Oxford musical legends Stornoway bowed out in style with a spectacular hometown farewell gig.

The Oxford indie-folk four-piece, who formed when frontman Brian Briggs met keyboardist Jon Ouin at university fresher’s week, have enjoyed huge success, gracing stages everywhere from Oxford Town Hall and Sheldonian Theatre to Glastonbury Festival and London’s Somerset House.

Now, after 11 years they have called it a day, and signed off last night with a show in their hometown’s largest venue – the New Theatre.

A capacity crowd greeted the band, enjoying a show which veered from cheery anthems to tender acoustic numbers –with Brian, Jon and bandmates Oli and Rob Steadman clearly finding the experience an emotional one. The show ended with a massed stage invasion – scores of fans joining their heroes on stage for a sing-along.

Brian told the crowd: “We want this to be a party not a wake tonight. We want singing, dancing and heckling... and I need you to cover me as I’m about to well up!”

Highlights included a bittersweet rendition of Fuel Up, Farewell Appalachia – complete with live sound effects of an axe on wood (and crisps for leaves), The Road You Didn’t Take and, appropriately, The End of the Movie. The band also delighted with a rocking version of Simple Minds’ Don’t You (Forget About Me) – before going into their own Watching Birds.

They came back for the first of two encores with The Great Procrastinator, but the biggest cheers came for anthem Zorbing, their best-known tune and which name-checks Cowley. The song was accompanied by the release of scores of transparent beach balls into the audience.

Thanking fans and supporters of the band, Brian singled out the parents of Oli and Rob, whose home remains Stornoway HQ, and where they practised in their early days. He said: “The Steadman parents deserve the biggest cheer for putting up with us in their garage.”

He added: “We never dreamed we’d achieve what we’d achieve, from annoying neighbours in a garage. We remember being so delighted about our first gigs at The Cellar, Wheatsheaf and Port Mahon. They gave us so much pride and happiness that our music found a way into people’s hearts. And we want to give you a huge vote of support as it wouldn’t have happened without you. Thank you for the memories, which we’ll treasure forever.”

Speaking after the show, bassist Oli said: “It was magic to see all those people out there  with so many familiar faces. It went even better than I thought.”

Among the fans was former BBC Oxford presenter Tim Bearder, who helped launch the band on his Introducing show, once dedicating an entire morning show to the band, to the annoyance of station management.

He said: “I can’t take any credit for what Stornoway have achieved. They did that though their own amazing talent. And what a brilliant last show!”