Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Live in 2015: The Staves at The Glee Club, Cardiff on Monday 16th February 2015

This was the first time I had been able to see The Staves live and boy, was I impressed. The Staves are 3 English sisters, Emily Staveley-Taylor (vocals/keyboard/percussion), Camilla (vocals/ukulele/guitars) & Jessica (vocals/guitar). 

They've released one full album so far, Dead & Born & Grown at the end of 2012.

But first up was the diminutive figure of Flo Morrisey as support. Flo has a quiet ethereal voice and plays guitar & keyboard with her songs. She played about seven songs including, funnily enough, a version of Irish Heart English Blood. Her set went down well with the crowd, which was made up of people of all ages and a good contingent of females, which is always good to see outside of a boyband gig.

The Staves have been holed up in April Base Studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA, with Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver on production duties working on the new album If I Was and this tour has given them a chance to present the majority of the songs (9/12) a live airing. And I can confidently say that if the album sounds half as good as the live versions of the songs, it's going to be a cracker.

The ladies, complimented by drummer, bass & keyboard/guitar players played a 16 song set that was heavily built around the new album. They opened with the first track from the new album, Blood I Bred quickly followed by another new track , Steady. Next up was the EP only song, Open.
Being in Cardiff, the ladies proudly advertised their half Welsh heritage (their mother is Welsh) - to shouts of 'the good half' and soon got the crowd on their side. Throughout the show, the new material got as much applause as the older songs - always a good sign. 

Although concentrating mainly on the new album, one of the highlights of the night came next as they played Mexico from their debut album. a gorgeous song.

The sound all evening was bright and clear and the sisters' harmonies were nothing short of breathtaking on several songs.
A spate of new songs followed with Horizons, Black & White, The Shining & the beautiful No Me, No You, No More. Several of the new songs were quite expansive and intricate with several movements within one song - very unexpected but very welcome. The sisters have certainly moved on for the debut and I think the 'difficult second album' tag seems to have passed them by as the new material is very impressive.

Eagle Song came next and again was followed by two new songs. The highlight of the night for me came with the next song from the new album, Damn It All, which is one of the longer songs. It featured sublime vocals and some subtle sound effects and I can't wait to hear it on the new album, (vinyl, of course).

During the next track, another splendid new song called Make It Holy, Jessica's guitar strap fell off about 1/3 of the way in. She said this was their comedy moment, very fitting as we were in a comedy club, but just she strapped it back on and started the song from the beginning, to appreciative applause.

The run up to the end of the show returned to the debut album. First up was Pay Us No Mind, which the introduced us to the last new song of the evening, the upbeat Teeth White. With all three sisters contributing to lead vocals, the evening remained varied but gently familiar.

The set ended with Winter Trees, one of the best songs from Dead & Born & Grown. 

But, the ladies were up for an encore so we had Facing West and then to finish a beautiful rendition of Wisely & Slow, with Emily, Camilla & Jessica singing around one Mic.

A fitting end to a fantastic evening of beautiful harmony singing. The new songs are well up to standard and a few on first hearing are absolutely stunning. I can't wait to see what Justin Vernon and his team have contributed to the soundscapes of the new album.

Below is a short 10 minute documentary on the new album. Give it a view.

Twitter - @thestaves


all photos by Macwood Fleet - but feel free to use at will

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