The Staves at the Olympia Theatre, 6 May 2015
Watford sisters Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor are better known as folk band The Staves. Since their debut album was released in 2012 they have been making a name for themselves in the UK and the US, but their recorded material hints at only a fraction of their live potential.
There’s very little a written review can do to capture the magic we witnessed on the Olympia stage on Tuesday night – but we’ll have a stab at it.
Firstly, to open the show we have Donegal duo Little Hours. From just a simple setup with guitar, piano and two vocalists, these guys produce a decent sound, rising above the usual blandness of that combination. Their songs are well written, their vocals are very strong and harmonies are on point. The only downside to their arrangement is that they seem somewhat dynamically stunted without any percussion or bass. With a more filled-out sound they could really make an impact.
Without much by way of introduction, The Staves sisters file out humbly, with three-man band in tow, and open with Blood I Bled. The power of their vocals from the very first note is simply phenomenal. Saying that they are pitch perfect is a cop out, because there is so much more to their vocal tones: three part harmonies expertly and effortlessly weaved throughout verses.
The first song is so breath-taking by itself that if the Staves were to have called it a night immediately afterward, we would’ve been reasonably happy that we’d gotten a memorable performance. Thankfully we were treated to another hour or so of blissful folk pop.
For songs like No Me, No You, No More, the peaks and troughs of their vibratos tessellate so naturally that you have to think that their shared DNA has something to do with it. No amount of practice could unify singers in the way that these sisters manage to come together.
Tracks from The Stave’s March release ‘If I Was’ sound particularly strong with a full band. Black and White has an edgier rock sound, while remaining grounded in the realm of folk. Put these together and you get something that sounds like Hozier as a three-headed female.
At one point only halfway through the night, the crowd gives a deafening post-song applause that surely lasts for over a minute. “We were looking forward to coming back to Dublin but we weren’t anticipating such a shit crowd,” they joke, with still no end in sight for the clapping. “Fuck me, cheers!”
Their crowd interaction throughout the night is best described as ‘drunk Keira Knightley’ – posh but cheeky Britishness at its absolute finest.
Possibly their best known track Mexico sounds predictably stunning when it gets its turn towards the end of the set, and it is only then that we realise that no one is really singing along tonight. The crowd, though entirely invested in their supernatural performance, realise it would be almost rude to try and compete with those vocals.
Even clapping feels embarrassingly unappreciative. A standing ovation (following closing tune White Trees) goes some of the way to properly convey our gratitude for what was a beyond perfect performance.