In the week following the horrific attack in our city, it was wonderful to see such a packed and joyful crowd coming out on Wednesday evening, flipping a Mancunian middle finger to the haters and showing solidarity for one another and live music.
The Staveley-Taylor sisters have been back and forth between the UK and their temporary home in the US, where they’ve been touring and recording new music, including their latest EP Sleeping In A Car. But they announced their return to Blighty in style this week, with a stop at Gorilla, before heading down south for a headline set at next weekend’s Bushstock Festival.
Kicking off a set laden with more recent tracks, from the aforementioned Sleeping In A Car EP and their glorious 2015 sophomore record If I Was, was the beautifully textured and ethereal Outlaw. Last time the sisters visted Manchester, they were accompanied by a number of band members, but tonight it was just the three of them and a fantastic drummer, adding an extra touch of intimacy to the show. Yet, with the help of loops, pedals and samples to accompany their electrics and stunning vocals, it was more than enough to showcase their tracks, made evident in the glorious performance of Steady and the beating Black & White.
The Staves, goddamn those lucky lot, are blessed with purely angelic vocals and when blended together, can create the most stunning of harmonies. It is beyond doubt that most of the audience present were there to hear these rich and beautiful vocal layers, and, despite the drunk Scouse bloke next to me who attempted to join in and butcher each track, they were very much on show. The wonderful Roses truly displayed these gorgeous, dipping and diving vocals, as the music reached a pulsating crescendo.
Aside from the music, The Staves’ kept the crowd in high spirits, with their sisterly banter putting everyone at ease and pushing the recent atrocities out of our mind, if only for a short while. There was, however, a moment of reflection for the city and those most affected, leading to spirited and hearty round of applause for our fellow Mancunians, those who were visiting the city that night, and the coming together of an already close and unified community.
The slow-building introduction to Damn It All was a real treat before the second half of the track kicked in with vim and vigor, whilst Blood I Bled climbed with a defiant and bold drumbeat and swooping and swirling harmonies. Whilst the Americana-style, party atmosphere of Teeth White was clearly a firm favourite amongst the crowd, it was the striking Make It Holy, followed by the sumptuous No Me, No You, No More and Let Me Down, all from the Justin Vernon-produced If I Was, that brought the goosebumps.
All this however, was yet to be topped by a quite stunning encore. Remember those harmonies that I’ve been banging on about!? Well get ready to hear about them for a little longer! It’s always a good sign when the stage crew unplug everything on stage whilst the band are grabbing a quite drink to the sound of rapturous applause, before bringing out just the single mic stand. It often means that we’re going a cappella, and if there’s one band that can smash out out a decent choral performance, it’s this lot. Emily, Jessica and Camilla gave us two magical moments, in the form of two tracks that truly announced The Staves on the big stage with the release of their debut record Dead & Born & Grown in 2012. First came Gone Tomorrow, as the ceiling fans were turned off so we could fully immerse ourselves in those gorgeous harmonies. It was during the final song however, that emotions were stirred, with even the sisters getting momentarily teary as the crowd sung with hushed voices, to the beautiful Mexico. Inevitably this was met with an extended round of applause, cheers and whooping, as the four band members took a bow and used this moment to remind us not to vote for the fucking Tories, followed by a final nod to our wonderful city…I think Manchester will be inviting them back here pretty sharpish!