A return to Manchester for Emilie and Ogden saw a stripped back performance as Emilie Kahn performed with just Ogden, her harp for company.

The fans in the audience who had seen her perform a few months back may well have been expecting a drummer and bass player for accompaniment, but in their absence the emphasis was well and truly on the incredibly talented harpist.

But before she takes to the stage, a special mention needs to be made of singer songwriter Zoe Stirling, performing to what she describes as her biggest crowd to date.  If the brief set is anything to judge by, there are certain to be much larger gigs in her future.  Performing several tracks, she quickly shows an enviable ability to craft excellent songs and a delivery to match.  The marvellous Ghost is strong and emotional, featuring upbeat interludes contrasted with slow and gentle melodies.

The moody, slow Black Dog is excellent, whilst her guitarist uses the body of the six-string to great percussive effect.

image of Zoe Stirling

Zoe Stirling

But it isn’t all slow and dark.  She laughs as she introduces her ‘cheeriest’ song, the recently written Set It Free, during which her guitarist takes a break.  Performing by herself she clearly has the guitar talents to match the vocal ability.

The set is rounded off with the foot tapping Anyway, another display of strong songwriting.  As her set concludes there are applauds and cheers from the audience, which has been suitably impressed.

Within moments of Emilie and Ogden taking to the stage, it’s safe to say that there are hairs standing up on the back of people’s necks, such is the beauty of the performance.  At times it is stunningly uplifting, at times haunting.  At all times, it’s hypnotic and intoxicating.

The crowd is silent during each song, but each ending brings an eruption from the audience who are clearly entranced by what they are watching and listening to.

Emilie speaks quietly, but is captivating each time she introduces the next piece, talks of her home country, touring, explains the workings of her harp or even discusses the weather.  When it comes to her cover of Taylor Swift’s Style, she introduces it as one which everybody in the room will know.  There is a slightly confused look on people’s faces when she starts – clearly not many Swifties in the room, but nevertheless it is impressive.

For the most part, however, she plays tracks from her debut album 10,000.  Amongst them the impressive Dream, Long Gone and What Happened.  In truth every song is stunning.  They range from hauntingly beautiful through to bright and busy – the opening of title track 10,000 is particularly impressive in this regard.

The set is best summed up in the final song, however, as she performs the sensational White Lies.  She plucks every conceivable emotion and the audience is bound by it.  The absence of her drummer and bass player seems to have given her complete freedom of expression, the ability to be slightly more playful at times and to display all the emotion which can be imagined.  The conclusion is met by a chorus of applauds, cheers and whistles.  She has taken the audience on a truly exquisite emotional journey.

Find out more about Emilie & Ogden at https://emilieandogden.com/
Find out more about Zoe Stirling at www.facebook.com/zoestirling