Now Then and Opus Independents are quietly doing great things in Sheffield. Tonight they bring an impressive line-up of song-writing talent to The Harley, and despite a poor turnout, provide a real treat. It’s the little things that often make the difference, and tonight, not only do we have some seating in the Harley, the stage also looks like a theatre set.
To get the night underway, we have the winner of the Opus Song Writing Competition. As he rises from his comfy chair, Robert George Saull seems to be in his element. Interjecting short preambles with songs containing subtle lyricism, you can hear a pin drop as the audience hang on his every word. ‘Kathy’ and ‘The Wedding Prayer’ are highly impressive and stand as a testament to his talent.
Pete David joins him to perform a duet of ‘The Testimony of Patience Kershaw’, and sthen takes over tonight’s proceedings. Transporting the audience across the Atlantic, Pete David mixes Roots and Americana to spin his tales from bygone days, mixing history with the rich tapestry of human experience. Between tracks from the band’s first EP such as ‘St Lawrence River’, ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Abigail’, he throws in a splendid cover of The Felice Brother’s ‘Whisky in my Whisky’, in a highly assured and impressive performance.
Starting her set in the crowd, we now find ourselves in an early twentieth century Berlin cabaret. It has been a long time coming, but her debut album, O Devotion!, has finally landed, and we are finally seeing a great potential being realised. Her music is a mix of smoky barroom jazz and quirky folk music. She disarmingly self-deprecating, and certain melancholy dark humour runs through her songs. Before singing the Ballard of Joe (a starling) & Oko she treats us to her storybook of the song, subsequently donning Joe’s head and serenading us starling-style. Her recent single, Displacement Song, is the highlight of a wonderful evening, and she is clearly someone who has the ability to make a huge impact.
An evening interwoven with subtle storytelling and talented musicianship, if this is anything to go by the Opus Acoustic night every Thursday at The Riverside is well worth checking out.