Review: The Staves at The Old Fire Station, Bournemouth

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Folk-rock group The Staves is made up of the three Staveley-Taylor sisters: Emily, Jessica and Camilla. Championed by Greg James and Lauren Laverne and fresh after supporting Florence and the Machine around the UK, the girls headed back on the road to showcase their latest album If I Was.

Their penultimate show of the tour took place at The Old Fire Station in Bournemouth on a dark, rainy Sunday night on the 8th November, after being moved from the O2 Academy. This resulted in a more intimate, tight knit show that complimented the performance. Gabriel Rios was the perfect support act for them, so likeable as a person and with delicate songs that really captivated the audience from the off. This led to the perfect atmosphere for a band such as The Staves to perform in, so much so that the girls themselves commented on how “lovely and quiet you lot are”.

Opening with ‘Hopeless’, an entirely acapella song, their voices instantly had everyone spellbound. Following with the better known ‘Steady’, the folky twang of Jess’ voice shone through, before moving into ‘Black and White’ – a rockier song sung by Camilla which recently won Best Alternative Music Video at the UK Music Video Awards. The album’s title track ‘Blood I Bled’ built with military style drums and live horns and wouldn’t have sounded out of place whilst entering a battle. The whole effect of that, paired the contrast of sudden drops in volume, was bold and dramatic, leaving just Camilla singing about the defeat of ending a relationship.

The highlights from the show included the beautiful rendition of ‘No Me, No You, No More’ that consisted of atmospheric electric sounds and Jessica’s voice primarily, which reached notes of awe inspiring heights. As one of the sadder songs, this ballad left the audience in a hushed trance for a split second after it finished, with everyone laughing as they applauded at how captured they had been. Also, their cover of Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘Feeling’ was brilliantly modified to suit their voices, copying the Bollywood background sounds with their own high notes. Camilla had previously revealed in an interview with The Edge that Bombay Bicycle Club are the group that the girls would most like to work with in the future – if they were to hear The Staves’ cover then I’m sure they’d be snapped up. Having previously spoken on Twitter about the difficulties in conveying an album’s sounds into live performances, the girls used a loop pedal to create a choir effect at the end of their song ‘Let Me Down’ which sent murmurs through the audience; the layers of their voices at different pitches and sounds made it very special.

Another distinctive moment towards the end of their performance was when they got Andy Smith up on stage, a “dude” that they’d been messaging about this event for a while. Joining him on stage was his girlfriend Sam, who seemed more shocked than the entire audience when Andy got down on one knee and proposed! This reinforced how endearing The Staves are, like cool older sisters that the audience idolise. The girls were charming in between songs, adopting funny voices when joking about the amount of smoke in the Old Fire Station and asking whether living by the sea is as wonderful as they’d always heard. Their song ‘Horizons’ features the lyric “2.5 to the horizon”, meaning miles away when you’re at sea level. Emily told us that this was a concrete fact and not to be argued about.

All in all, The Staves delivered in all aspects for this show. The range of ages and gender within the audience demonstrated that their voices can captivate anyone, even if not entirely familiar with all of the songs they performed. This was proven as they debuted a new track consisting mostly of the lyric “I’m tired as fuck” before their quasi-encore. A more electric track with plenty of bass to boot, this song stuck two fingers up at critics and showed that they aren’t always so angelic; swearing like sailors only making them more likeable. Finishing with ‘Teeth White’, a track made for singing and clapping along to, the Americana guitar sounds and uplifting tambourine ended the night on a high.

The Staves are ones to watch, definitely destined for big things.

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