I went to see one of my favourite bands, The Staves, tonight, at the Crypt on the Green, Clerkenwell. Under St James’s church. The three sisters – Emily, Camilla and Jessica – have been touring some fairly small venues, trying out a load of new songs, as well as playing plenty of the old (old?) favourites.
And those new ones were good! They started with “The Blood I Bled”, which gets released as feature track on an EP tomorrow. I’ve heard it a few times, but live it was superb. The wonderful vocals, the harmonies, mixed with guitar and resonant percussion. It was followed by another excellent, intricate new song, “Steady”. The acoustics of the Crypt worked really well for the vocals, I thought. An absolutely joy, especially for the harmonies of “Wisely and Slow”, which might just have been the best version I’ve enjoyed live.
The only problem with going underground was that it got hotter and hotter. I’m not sure I could cope with a full-on rock’n’roll band there!
The new songs were a development from the first album. More of the heavy percussion and electric guitars (one song, “Teeth White” was quite rocky), but still some beautifully tender moments. There were three lovely vocal/acoustic pieces in the middle of the set, whose names I didn’t catch, which I can’t wait to hear on record one day. The new album is going to be good. Not sure when it is due or even what it will be called, but it surely must take The Staves to another level.
The main set finished with the epic “Eagle Song”. It’s a song made for the climax – almost prog rock! They came back for an encore to do the lovely, simply strummed “Facing West”, with Camilla on the ukelele, and then a glorious “Winter Trees”. During the set we had an entrancing “Mexico” and the defiant “Pay Us No Mind” too. The latter dedicated to men who don’t listen!
I felt like I was listening to a group who have grown in assurance, adding depth to the music without sacrificing the essence of their appeal, which is the beauty of their intertwined vocals. It felt right to be listening to them in (or below) a church, because the singing of The Staves is truly spiritual.
And I was watching a group who were relaxed, humorous, confident about their new sounds. The vibe was really positive.
The Staves are going places….