The Staves - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
Friends of the Fix may be fatigued by my frequent reports from Austin’s SXSW over the years, but it has to be said, there’s no better place in the world to discover live music. With around 2,500 acts perform in the space of a week, there’s always a new band to fall in love with just around the corner, even on the last day of the event, when you’re completely knackered and running on empty. This year I had the pleasure of stumbling over sister act The Staves on the Saturday afternoon, while waiting for Paloma Faith to take to the stage of a tiny bar, high on energy drinks, with time to kill and a neck craning position in the second row.
I had heard the trio's single 'Winter Trees' a few times on BBC 6 Music a few months earlier but I didn't know much about the girls' music, so was it was a real pleasure to have my afternoon lifted by the band's enchanting folk songs, although there were moments of frustration while standing on tip toes trying to grab or shot or two!
I picked up the group's debut album Dead & Born & Grown on my return to the UK and it's been a firm favourite ever since. I vowed to see them live again but missed all of the many festival dates they played over the Summer, so jumped at the chance of a ticket for their biggest headline show to date at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire, as part of an extensive UK tour.
The Watford warblers - Emily, Jessica and Camilla seemed to be in great spirits for their SBE gig, popping out twice before their set to introduce their support acts. They mentioned later in the evening that they played one of their first ever shows at the venue as bottom of the bill a few years earlier, so it must have felt a real accomplishment headlining.
The set list for The Staves Bush bash was pulled from their debut, with new tracks also unveiled and a little treat, in the shape of some incidental music from Aussie soap
The trio's vocal's were exquisitely angelic throughout the show, with 'Eagle Song', 'Mexico' and 'Facing West' all sounding tremendous. The venue's crowd were a little bit noisy on occasions but they did show the band a lot of respect, especially when the three sisters huddled round the one microphone for their beautiful acapella introduction to album opener 'Wisely & Slow" as you could hear a pin drop.
I do adore the softer side of the group but I must admit I prefer my Staves music with a little more oomph, so new track 'Teeth White' and 'Winter Trees' with it's galloping middle eight were right up my street. The second "gnashers" related song of the night 'Tongue Behind My Teeth' also injected a bit of welly into the proceedings and was the highlight of my evening, although it was almost pipped at the post by encore number 'Dead & Born & Grown', as it was the perfect way to end a really special show.