Saturday 24th November 2012 – Limelight 2, Belfast
It was with some concern that I entered the Limelight 2 for The Staves’ sold-out show. To clarify this didn’t stem from my dislike of their music (in fact you can read my very positive review of their debut album, ‘Dead & Born & Grown’ here) but more how the folky harmonies would translate to a packed venue where the bar and it’s associated noises are located not too far from the stage.
I need not have worried as from the very first chords of ‘The Motherlode’ the venue fell silent and you literally could have heard a pin drop. The three sisters have clearly been snapped up as a result of the mainstream success of folk darlings, Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling. But far from just hanging on the coat tails of their predecessors, the Stavely-Taylors have become a critical success in their own right. The sombre ‘Icarus’ brings silence back to the room and is swiftly followed by the soft approach of ‘Mexico.’ That being said the girls looked slightly nervous at first but that illusion is lifted with their latest single ‘Tongue Behind My Teeth’. The more up-tempo number gets a few feet tapping and draws a rapturous reception from the crowd. We are rewarded with some banter that the trio nearly had some nerve induced bowel movements before performing on Jools Holland. ‘Facing West’ is one of those very songs that they performed and tonight is no different it’s a spine-tinglingly fragile performance. It is not long before we reach the end of their captivating set and instead of the usual drama of the band leaving the stage and coming back they just turn their backs while the crowd roars with approval. They give us the album’s title track, ‘Dead & Born & Grown’ and the sublime ‘Winter Trees,’ which has become a real stalwart of their live set.
It is hard to know how long a certain genre of music will maintain mainstream popularity for but I would not be surprised to find these three lovely girls headlining significantly bigger venues next time they are out on tour. When you consider that Bon Iver has the widespread appeal to play Wembley and they had the privilege of acting as his support, anything is possible!