The Staves // RNCM Manchester // Saturday 2nd November 2013

Photography: Rebecca Miller
Photo: Rebecca Miller

The audience file into the concert hall; the performers tonight are The Staves, an acoustic folk trio from Watford, Hertfordshire. They have recently received acclaim with the release of their debut album, Dead & Born & Grown.

The crowd within the hall seat themselves. The gig is about to begin. Stepping out first onto the stage is the support act, Christof; he is a singer-songwriter hailing originally from Holland.

Christof quietly takes to the stage with the rest of his band. They pick up their instruments and begin to play their opening song. There is a shy aura about the musician, though this dissipates quickly as he strikes an opening chord.

Amongst the memorable songs of his performance are the tracks ‘Love’s Glory’ and ‘Shoot Me Down’, taken from his latest EP: both are exceedingly beautiful. They are comprised of sterling harmonies, exquisite cello, and the faint sound of drumming.

The welcoming Manchester crowd receives them well. Throughout the performance the audience are silent and respectful to the young musician. They are moved by his honest songwriting and his subtle approach. With some parting words, he leaves the stage at the conclusion of his set to a round of applause.

The Staves appear not long after Christof has vacated the stage; with them is their touring group. After settling themselves, they begin to play tracks from their debut album. Amongst these is the single ‘Mexico’, a gorgeous song lifted to greater heights by the pitch-perfect harmonies of Emily, Jessica, and Camilla.

The group is incredibly comfortable; they make droll remarks to each other onstage between songs. They have an incredible chemistry, and it is on display throughout the performance for those in attendance.

The songs ‘Tongue Behind My Teeth’ and ‘The Motherlode’ also provoke a strong positive reaction from the audience. ‘Tongue Behind My Teeth’ is a more raucous affair than their other songs, but the audience doesn’t seem to mind; they respond cheerfully to the piece. The latter of the two tracks, ‘The Motherlode’, contrasts with the last song quite significantly. It is more restrained in its composition, allowing the harmonies to take preference over the instrumentation.

They perform a collection of their best work from their career so far, including the songs ‘Winter Trees’ and ‘Facing West’. The crowd responds once again with applause; the songs are of an exceptional quality for musicians so young.

The Staves are a rare example of a group whose sound thrives in a live environment. Their harmonies echo out throughout the concert hall to the supreme delight of their fans. Producing an incredibly intimate backdrop to their vocals, Camilla delicately strums the ukulele to the left of the stage. The atmosphere is profound.

After an encore, they thank the welcoming crowd for their excellent behaviour, before departing through the stage exit. It is now only left for the audience to withdraw into the night.

With one album behind them, The Staves look set to become as big as their popular folk contemporaries. From their performance tonight it is easy to suggest that it’ll be only a matter of time before they are playing much bigger venues, allowing them the opportunity to distribute their earnest sound to a significantly wider audience

4/5

Written by: Jack Yarwood

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