Tonight I was at the Bon Iver gig in The o2 Dublin. The show was pretty much sold out and with tickets at €36.50 it’s not hard to see why. I have been a fan of Bon Iver for a long time. I regularly listen to their albums but it is only when you see them in concert that you can truly appreciate how talented they are and how impressive and technical the songs are. I was lucky enough to get a standing ticket also managed to get incredibly close to the stage.
The Staves were support on the night. Having played a successful set at this years Electric Picnic festival they seemed delighted to be back in Ireland. The British band is made up of three extremely talented sisters, Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor. Having played together since childhood they play effortlessly as a group.
Walking onto the stage with a guitar and Ukulele between the three of them they give a quick introduction and start into their set. The jaws of a lot of the crowd drop as the trio’s voices fill the o2. The 3-part harmonies of their songs are amazing and take a lot of people by surprise. After their first few songs their witty personalities are obvious. They start off by thanking Bon Iver for supporting THEM and share some other jokes before announcing that this concert marks the official launch of their new album Dead & Born & Grow. After that album plug they are back to playing music. They invite Bon Iver’s violinist Rob Moose on stage to accompany them and he is a welcome addition. The song “Tongue Behind My Teeth” (video below)sounds great live with the violin. The stand out moment of their set is when all three girls gather around one microphone and deliver an acapella masterclass.
During their set they also inform us that they will be back for a headline gig of their own on November 25th in Whelan’s (tickets available here). With endorsements like that of the lead singer from Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) it will surely be a sell out. He described The Staves perfectly when he proclaimed “three people that can sing like that together come along only once in a hundred years.” The Staves leave the stage to a well deserved round of applause from an appreciative crowd.
After some sound checks and a stage reshuffle the house lights dim again and the crowd erupts as the main act for the night arrive I was shocked to see 9 of them walk on! But after the first song it was crystal clear whey it is such a large band. The amount of instruments that they play is unbelievable! I also quickly gave up trying to count how many guitar changes there were. On one occasion a band member switched from electric to acoustic mid song!
The set-list for the night was fantastic. If I had been afforded the opportunity to write it myself I couldn’t have improved it. The highlight for me was when Justin Vernon was left on stage by himself. He spoke to the crowd at length and then invited The Staves back out to provide backing vocals to the track “Re:Stacks”. What ensued was a spine tingling few minutes. The crowd was totally silent throughout the entire song. The backing vocals from The Staves really added a new element to an already fantastic track. Another song that deserves a mention is “Holocene”(video below). The crowd again falls silent for its entirety showing how much respect they have for the band. The song that got the biggest reaction on the night was of course “Skinny Love.” Once Vernon reached for the steel guitar the crowd knew it was coming. A song that receives as much radio play as Skinny Love has, runs the risk of overplay, but there is no doubting its strength and impact as a live song.
The set came to a close and the band sauntered off only to come back on again 5 minutes later to play a 3-song encore. By the time this encore was over it was 11:00pm and I presumed that was the end of the show. (11pm being the curfew in the 02). I could not have been more wrong. Shortly after leaving again time they came back out, much to the shock and delight of the crowd and launched into a second encore of “The Wolves Act I & II”. This 5-minute anthem was a perfect way to end the night and to end the tour.
All 9 members of the band seemed quite emotional at the end. It was only later that I realised that this show could in fact be the last by Bon Iver for a very long time as they are now seemingly on hiatus. If this is true then there was no better way to go out!
I would really recommend checking out The Staves. Their gig in Whelans is sure to be brilliant.
The Bon Iver website has more information about the band.
Were you at this gig? Is this the end of Bon Iver? Let me know what you think.