REVIEW: Staves/Gabriel Rios @ Newcastle University Student’s Union (25.10.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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There are bold moves and there are bold moves: as far as opening songs go, covering Jimi Hendrix is about as bold as they come. Gabriel Rios demands attention in a silent teacher manor. Joined on stage for the rest of his set by double bass and cello he waltzes through a set a latin Devendra Banhart would be proud of. Joyfully avant garde.

No words were spoken before The Staves soared into an a cappella introduction. Steady and Black And White showcase the new dimension of The Staves; an undeniable influence of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, trademark shuffling drums and all before a cover of Bombay Bicycle Club’s Feel. The Staves at their best are a band who take you to the brink of all-encompassing melancholy, and nowhere is this more evident than during a heart-wrenching version of No Me, No You, No More accompanied only by looped droning harmonies transitioned into the soaring Don’t Let Me Down. A re-imagining of Mexico lacks the fragility which made the original such a compelling listen, and there are a few moments where you can’t help but feel the incredible production of the new album is a poisoned chalice when it comes to live shows. Make It Holy especially lacks something you can’t quite put your finger on. The set is book-ended with a convincingly sincere rendition of Sadness Don’t Own Me which sees Jess take to keys, another string to the already plentiful bow.

Fans are treated to only the second ever outing of a new song Tired, packed to the brim with groove and soulful delivery as an encore before closing the show with two-fingers-to-the-world Teeth White.

The Staves will never play a bad gig, such is their undeniable talent, but I came away missing their trademark humour between songs, the counterpoint to the incredible fragility of their music.


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