Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Gabriel Rios (supporting The Staves), Beckett Uni, Leeds, October 27th 2015

‘I nearly shat myself’ confesses Camilla Staveley-Taylor to a slightly startled Leeds audience, explaining her reaction to a gushing Twitter endorsement from David Crosby, legendary CSN/CSNY frontman and one of The Staves’ all-time favourite bands, as he complimented the ladies’ fine harmonies on the social media channel. High praise indeed for the three heavenly voiced sisters whose second album ‘If I Was’ recently dented the UK top 20.

Before the main draw takes to the stage, we’ve half an hour of ardent Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Gabriel Rios taking his place on the undercard. Mr Rios, touring the UK supporting his fourth album “This Marauder’s Midnight’ is something of an unknown quantity on these shores, his success to date coming largely in his adopted home country of Belgium where his aforementioned album has recently topped the charts, all previous long players also having made the top ten. Interestingly, the material for his latest release appeared a song at a time, a month at a time on his website over the course of a year. Tonight his vocal/guitar receives minimal augmentation in the form of cello and double bass cum beat-box…..that’s it. One wonders if the stripped back sound will manage to fill the expanses of this comparatively large venue but we’ve no need to worry, sincere compositions such as ‘Gold’, a blend of folk, Euro-pop with a hint of mariachi thrown in for good measure, seem to resonate with the rapidly growing crowd.
Not content with simply showcasing new album material, The Staves open with brand new track ‘Helpless’, one of two recent creations released directly ahead of the ‘If I Was’ tour. ‘Steady’ ups the pace before we really rock out with the smoking bluesy ‘Black and White’, the three siblings swathed in wigwams of light. Success hasn’t affected their sense of humour as Jessica sadly informs everyone before ‘Winter Trees’ that no one has approached them yet to use the song in a Christmas commercial; come on John Lewis, what are you playing at?
Bollywood infused Bombay Bicycle Club track ‘Feel’ is the surprise cover of choice this evening as The Staves strip the sound right back and make it their own as we then witness another brace of songs welded together, firstly the exquisite ‘Eagle Song’ blending into the similarly expansive ‘America’. Jessica switches to piano for the achingly beautiful ‘Sadness Don’t Own Me’, a track Gabriel Rios has also covered. It also gives hints at where The Staves sound may be heading, further evidence provided in the atmospheric electronica-tinged closing number ‘Damn It All’.  The encore consists of another new song ‘Tired As Fuck’, then Beatle-esque ‘Teeth White’ rounding things off nicely

Words - Mike Price

Gabriel Rios official
The Staves official