Probably Liverpool’s premier small venue, 81 Renshaw Street, played host to the first Klee Music Acoustic Night. This isn’t your normal acoustic evening, as there is a twist. Okay, the musicians all play a thirty minute set, but then they come together for the evening’s denouement, to perform two more songs as a trio, but also to perform a cover of each other’s songs. This was probably the first time each musician had heard a song that they had written performed by someone else.

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Sophie Whittle. Photo Credit: Tim Sheard

The evening kicked off with the junior member of the trio, Rainford’s Sophie Whittle, who delighted the audience with her six song set. Described by a member of the gathered as a cross between Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell, Sophie delivered a set of compositions whose maturity belied her tender years. She performed stock-still, an other-worldly presence, with a vocal style that transcended through the octaves like a lark ascending. Songs such as I Did Not Find Forgiveness and Red Headed Jesus captivated the audience, and Sophie finished her set with an impromptu performance of All Shook Up, which was truly magnificent.

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Esme Birdie. Photo Credit: Tim Sheard

Esme Bridie next took the stage, and she is in the position where she is in the final year of her music degree, but also has her debut album coming out in March. Today It Rains is already garnering favourable reviews, and she treated us to acoustic versions of a number of tracks on the album, plus a couple of new songs. She has, to be journalistically lazy, the voice of an angel, which gives a bitter-sweetness to such songs as What You Had Yesterday and Only Young. She concluded with the sublime Only Lonely People, an even extra high point to leave the audience with.

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Elijah James. Photo Credit: Tim Sheard

Elijah James was really moonlighting from his normal role, spear-heading Elijah James & The Nightmares, and we are glad he did. Elijah to these ears possesses the best baritone voice this side of Penzance, and has the songs to match this type of quality. His song-writing is deep and consequential. The set opened with the majestic There’s Everything Else And Then There’s You, quickly followed by the hit single in waiting That Girl Of Mine. Elijah finished on Man Made Masquerade, which surely should be on his upcoming second album, like That Girl Of Mine, as yet untitled.

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Photo Credit: Tim Sheard

After a short interval, the trio came together to perform a stunning version of Leonard Cohen’s So Long Marianne, and then a cover of each other songs. Sophie performed Esme Bridie’s Big Brown Boots on a ukulele – that was a curve ball – and the trio concluded the evening with You’ve Got A Friend, a fitting end to the evening.

Throughout the evening, the audience was transfixed. But the gathering of the musicians to come together in the finale, to perform each other’s songs, and to perform as a trio, really added to the communal spirit of the evening, Performers and audience as one. Entangled. As it should be. Roll on the next Klee Music Acoustic Night!

The next Klee Acoustic Night is happening in May, for more information visit Klee’s Facebook page here.

Richard Joy