Having only ever previously heard one of The Staves’ songs – Facing West – there was a real excitement on my part to see what this show held in store, especially as it was being hosted in Cardiff Bay’s comedy venue, The Glee Club. In the build up I was being told that The Staves have provided some of the better live performances people had seen, and being somewhat aware of their genre and style I was a bit hesitant to believe it as sometimes the intimacy of folk/acoustic music can be lost in a live environment.
In support of the three sisters was a young Londoner, Flo Morrissey, a 19 year old songwriter who was pleasant enough to listen to. While there is undoubtedly an arresting quality to Flo Morrissey’s voice – I would highly recommend you look her up, because she does have a talent – there wasn’t enough there for me, personally, to trigger any kind of reaction. Without question, she has musical talent and that was made prominent in her halfway switch from guitar to piano, and there’s a maturity in the vocals and lyrics of someone who is, to all intents and purposes, young in this world.
Following a couple of quick cigarettes in the intermission, I went back into the venue for the main act and there was a palpable sense of expectancy from the crowd. To go off on a slight tangent, the recently released If I Was is their first album in roughly three years so it’s understandable that the crowd were keen to see the fruits of their musical labours – something that was gratefully acknowledged by the band during their set.
From the moment they started up with their first song, there was an absolute focus and concentration on the girls – you could tell that a great deal of people had been waiting some time for this. Their set was an intertwining mix of new and old songs, with a couple of fan favourites like Eagle Song making an appearance before giving way again to songs of their latest release. There was a difference in the new and old, but not to the same extent that they had lost that which drew everyone there in the first place.
Admittedly their vocals and the co-ordination in their harmonising is one of the key components to the success of their sound, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive when you hear them; although I was expecting something along these lines, I was still taken aback at just how synchronised they were in their vocals. What added to that was the demeanour and interaction between the crowd and band because often at gigs those exchanges can be stale and sometimes forced, but here there was warmth and a mutual enjoyment, I felt.
The Staves are certainly a band worth seeing live, if only for the sheer talent that they have, a talent that has evidently been worked on and refined to an art, but also because of the atmosphere that was present last night. It didn’t feel so much as seeing a band live for the first time, but more of an unofficial homecoming of sorts to a city that clearly has a lot of love for the Staveley-Taylor sisters.