The Staves, known for their gorgeous harmonies and ethereal tones, lived up to expectations, delivering a performance filled with witty exchanges with the audience and making it a simply lovely evening in general.
It was Halloween that night, so when they came on stage they had to mention their lack of costumes; ‘Trust me, we feel pretty silly that we’re not wearing skeleton costumes now.’ I’ve seen the girls play at different festivals over the last year and a half, and they’ve never failed to make the audience laugh. Granted, this was definitely a more mature audience, with the average age probably being late-thirties; a ‘one-hand-clapping-on-the-other’ kind of gig. In my notes I’ve written that the percentage of bald people was higher than anticipated, though it was dark, and I was a bit pissed on wine so comments like that can be excused.
They opened with a new, upbeat song, jumping in with a drum and tambourine, to warm the audience up, before moving on to The Motherlode and Pay Us No Mind which got some people tapping their feet slowly. It’s always encouraging to see some foot tapping. The equipment started to play up at this point, to which they responded ‘Yeah, that’s part of the song!’ When it looked like the electric instruments would need a bit of fiddling with by the technician, they started talking about Nottingham’s association with Robin Hood, and burst into an unrehearsed rendition of Disney’s ‘Robin Hood’ which was spot on harmony-wise and the crowd loved it. Actually I think that got the biggest applause of the night- and rightly so!
One of the guys from the backing band tried the guitar again but it just made some kind of instrumental scream, so they chatted amongst themselves, ‘Shall we just play acoustic?’ When they remembered they were on a stage they said ‘Yeah just ignore us, we’re just being professionals.’ After a bit of banter with the audience again, they whacked out the ukulele and played my personal favourite, Facing West which is nice and melancholy, and makes you feel a bit sad but in a good way.
They stuck to the acoustic guitar for Mexico as well, which in a way showed off their talent more than if the equipment was in full working order. Some of the bald heads in front started bobbing so they could tell the audience was loving it- like little musical eggs beginning to hatch, thriving off the melodic warmth of their surrogate singer-mothers. Or something like that.
The equipment was soon fixed and they jumped back into some faster-paced songs, one of which was called Tongue Behind My Teeth, which they said was about someone they hated. Fair enough. After that they slipped into another of my favourites, Wisely and Slow, crowding around a single microphone and using only their voices for the first half of this number. Everyone was politely silent and it was just so angelic and lovely. I like to think we were all collectively saying ‘these gals really know how to sing’ in our heads at this point.
After throwing some new songs into the mix, they finished with ‘Winter Trees’ and then came on for an encore, singing Dead & Born & Grown (also in my top 3). There was a massive round of applause as they exited the stage for the last time and I think we all left feeling warm inside and happy that such talented people exist in the music industry. The fact that their performance wasn’t impacted by technical failures stands as a testament to their musical prowess and wit. Basically they’re really good. You should go see them.
By Sophie Taylor