Monday, 19 November, was a bumper night for music in London. Rihanna rolled into town for the sixth gig of her 777 tour, Rodriguez – star of cult documentary Searching For Sugar Man – thrilled the Royal Festival Hall, The Vaccines took to Ally Pally and I went underground. Village Underground to be precise, to see The Staves impress the great and good of Hackney on the second night of their first headline tour.
Three sisters proud of their Watford roots, Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor have been steadily gaining speed with a support slot for Bon Iver at Wembley and a performance of Facing West on Later… with Jools Holland. Following the example of Fleet Foxes in creating music that centres around the voice, I was excited to see whether their live performance matched up to the enticing recordings, as well as if they lived up to the hype of being three Laura Marling-alikes.
Now, my timekeeping isn’t brilliant and I was eating a REALLY good burger so I missed Christof, the first support act. However, I wasn’t going to be late for the second. Luke Sital-Singh thrilled audiences at Greenbelt earlier this year and received high praise from Lauren Laverne when he played in session for her BBC 6Music show. Drifting in to the aggression of Ryan Adams whilst channelling the melancholy warmth of The Tallest Man on Earth, Sital-Singh pours his heart out on stage with his guitar for company and his thoughts reverberating around the room. You Love, You Love stood out for me as the greatest example of this, a tender proclamation of unswerving devotion.
Then came the main event. With the minimum of fuss, production or instrumentation, The Staves captivated the room by using their stunning voices in multi-textured harmonies. The distinct tones of each sister blended beautifully and made great use of minor chords to send shivers down the spine. My highlights included the hypnotising Mexico, the delicate, driving guitars of Tongue Behind My Teeth and the surprisingly energetic refrain of Wisely and Slow.
Engagingly normal on stage, the chatter in between was almost as entertaining as the music. Even being disturbed by noisy air-conditioning didn’t distract them from their witty repartee, with one sister exclaiming: “I thought it was annoying, now I think it’s cool. Well we are in Shoreditch.”
Twitter rumours post-gig tell me that three people fainted that night. Whether that’s due to the sacrifice of the air-con or the overwhelming talent of The Staves remains to be seen, but one thing for certain is that these girls are moving on from excited murmurings to mainstream recognition. As they say themselves: ‘why is it you whisper when you really need to yell?’