Live Report: Higher Ground Festival 2023

A vibrant, eclectic evening...

Saturday night, as the skies opened over Camden, Higher Ground was back at The Roundhouse for its second year. Celebrating an all-female line-up of singer-songwriters, genre-defying acts, and contemporary sounds, it was a vibrant showcase of talent, featuring impressive live performances and DJ sets from some of the best female-fronted acts on the scene.

Kicking it off was Aoife Nessa Frances, the Dublin-based artist gracing us with her beautiful, groovy, and woozy psychedelic music. Frances set the stage with her mesmerizing melodies, captivating the audience with her soulful voice and entrancing lyrics. Her performance served as a perfect introduction to the eclectic line-up of artists to come.

Following Frances was Tawiah, an alternative-soul singer and songwriter based in London. Accompanied by a choir, Tawiah’s heartfelt songwriting was elevated to new heights. The combined power of her raw vocals and the harmonious backing of the choir created a truly transcendent experience for all in attendance.

As the night progressed, The Orielles took the stage with an added twist. The Halifax group delivered a powerful performance infused with the energy of live strings. The combination of their infectious rhythm section, the soaring guitar work with the added strings created an atmosphere that was both ethereal and electrifying. The Orielles proved why they were a force to be reckoned with.

The final act of the night was the much-anticipated headliner, The Staves. Jessica and Camilla, with a full band behind them, played and sang just as powerfully and beautifully as they do with missing member Emily, and it was impressive to hear how they’d reconfigured some of the songs for just the two of them. Their tight harmonies and impeccable musicianship were on full display as they showcased their impressive catalogue of songs. 

In addition to the live acts, TYSON and Tina Edwards took turns as DJs, keeping the energy alive between sets and ensuring the crowd never had a moment to catch their breath. Their well-curated playlists spanned various genres, showcasing their talent for creating a seamless musical journey throughout the festival.

Overall, Higher Ground proved to be a remarkable celebration of female talent in the music industry. From the mesmerizing performances of Aoife Nessa Frances and Tawiah to the electrifying fusion of The Orielles with live strings, and the enchanting harmonies of The Staves. The combination of diverse genres, exceptional musicianship, and a supportive atmosphere makes Higher Ground a true new highlight in the live music summer calendar.

Words: Fraser Johnston
Photography: Paul Dawes

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