The Staves at the Roundhouse
The Staves is a band that knows their genre and how to play to their strengths. They open with Hopeless, a simple but masterful a cappella piece, followed by Steady, a track from their new album. The sheer technical prowess of the three sisters who form the heart of the band is astounding, their voices all incredibly soulful and delicate, yet powerful. It’s impossible not to be moved by the harmonies they present, or the thoughtful lyrics that they bring to life. In songs as diverse as the Wild West swagger of Black & White and the almost cinematic tenderness of Blood I Bled, the vocals are delivered with equally confident strength, displaying none of the self-conscious awkwardness of many indie groups. It’s very clear that the Staves know what they’re doing and that’s what makes them so effective.
Unfortunately, the formula eventually outstays its welcome. Though the Staves are clearly incredibly talented and very comfortable with performing, they fail to keep things interesting throughout the set, which seems unnecessarily long. As they roll through numbers such as Eagle Song, Make It Holy and a cover of Bombay Bicycle Club’s Feel, their sound is increasingly homogenous, and each song blurs into the next. Intriguing and evocative lyrics aren’t enough to differentiate in a live setting, when the crowd is waiting for something worth witnessing. It doesn’t help that these tracks aren’t particularly upbeat or that the backing band don’t really add much, with simplistic drums, piano and the occasional brass. There’s just no variety.
However, when The Staves return for their encore they present from nowhere the bluesy, beat-heavy Tired as Hell and the pseudo-pop tendencies of Teeth White, suddenly injecting energy back into the venue, but far too late in the game. A few more songs like this throughout the set would have helped to pique interest through variety. As it stands, the Staves manage to fill an hour with music, which is evocative and technically virtuosic, but sadly repetitive and low in energy.
Photo: Paul Hudson
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