I had the luck to catch Nieves by accident when they played their first ever gig as a support slot at Tut’s in September and I was immediately taken by their acoustic set comprising in the main of Herre de Leur on piano and Brendan Dafters on vocal/guitar.
Their sound was fresh with soaring piano melodies complementing Dafters unique voice and songwriting; with talent in spades it was obvious that these guys would be one’s to watch and their self titled EP release in October only served to cement this.
I caught up with them for a chat before their first ever headline gig at King Tut’s; although nervous the guys wax lyrical about playing a venue they describe as “iconic” and speak about their fears off having to push tickets to friends and family only to be phoned a week before the show to be told it was a sell out.
Dafters explains that they recruited a drummer and lead guitarist to focus on developing a fuller sound, but they continue to use piano as the biggest driver in the songwriting process.
I ask the singer about the somewhat bleak subject matter of his songs and his plans for future tracks.
Promising that some of their new material, which they are to debut later, is slightly more uplifting he also warns that his influences remain in “light and shade” and that gritty narrative songs remain his forte.
Waiting for Nieves to take the stage there is an excited energy among the packed audience, clearly testament to how quickly the band have gathered a strong following.
Opener ‘The Knot’ warms the room up nicely before Dafters launches in to first single and anti-love song ‘Winter’, with the band looking genuinely stunned and suitable humbled by the crowd’s reaction with many singing-along.
The addition of a drummer and lead guitarist has added real quality to the band and does not detract from the exquisite piano providing melody, riffs and bassline.
This new combination works to stunning effect in new track ‘Legs and Arms’, a gritty affair that kicks and screams as Dafters pulls and pushes the transfixed and attentive audience in to his dark places.
Another new track. ‘All This Time’ forces the show along at break neck speed before a breath is drawn as the band clasp the audience to their hearts with the beautifully melancholy ‘Straight Line’.
Playing acoustically, without drums and adding a string section, for this track is an act of wonderful artistry; with a soulful piano melody soaring behind the lyrics, Dafters uses his uniquely evocative voice to spit emotion to the crowd, leaving us both drained and in raptures.
There is a dark and brooding character hiding behind a veil of boyish charm in that one and his voice and this band crave and deserve a bigger stage.
EP track ‘Sirens’, a tale of death in an avalanche is launched into picking up the pace, but continues the fervid feel of the night.
‘False Deity’ lifts the mood and brings the set to an end, with the band receiving well-deserved, noisy plaudits from a grateful audience.
The 45-minute set flies buy and leaves the crowd yearning for more; a new EP is on the horizon and if you want to see these guys they are live on STV Glasgow’s Riverside show at 6.30pm on tomorrow.
Indie folk at its finest is purveyed by these guys, but with their own spin and unique sound provided by a combination of piano and Dafters gritty emotional and outspokenly Scottish vocal.
Get them listened to and crow to your pals in the future about how you knew about them before they went big.
Words: Peter Dorrington
Photos: Tim J Gray