Emilio Pinchi, Chloe Pitchford, Caitlin Grindley: 81 Renshaw, Liverpool

Launching what might be his most accomplished set of songs yet, Emilio Pinchi continues to surprise Shaun Ponsonby.

By Shaun Ponsonby
Tue 19 November, 2019

Emilio Pinchi has been releasing EP’s like it’s going out of fashion for the last few years (maybe it is – but that’s a topic for another article).

His latest is Absentee, and it may be his most accomplished set of songs yet. It is a stark, intimate set that pares down from last year’s Holiday EP, which in itself was streamlined from 2017’s During Voided Hours. It helps put is penchant for storytelling front and centre, and indeed we find ourselves hanging on his every word throughout.

In fact, for tonight’s performance he has jettisoned the full band approach that we have become accustomed to seeing him with, and presents himself as he does on the EP – completely solo.

He plays the whole thing in sequence tonight. At least twice we notice an expression on his face during the performance that suggests the material is still raw for him. Not quite overcome with emotion, but feeling every moment in a way that is rare. You could see it in his eyes, especially on a song like Moving Schools, which

Of course, like all quiet acoustic shows he also has a lot of clatter to contend with. The way he dealt with this was something that, in all our years of gig going, we have never witnessed before.

For starters, when he began his set, he just started playing. No “Good evening” or introduction of any kind. He just casually started playing, and the room gradually fell silent at its own accord.

The standard action when certain audience members start to talk louder is to simply play louder. Incredibly, Pinchi does the opposite. On several occasions, he actually played quieter and, strangely, it worked. He drew people in and it worked every time. We’re not sure that is a skill you can teach, and it speaks volumes about not only his talent, but his charm.

We know we’re not supposed to say this because it’s supposed to be “credible real music” and all that, but if we’re being honest, most solo acoustic sets we have ever seen have been pretty dull, lifeless, too long and after a couple of songs we can’t wait for it to end. And this isn’t a commentary on the artist’s music or musicianship, it is simply because holding a room’s attention with nothing more than a guitar and a microphone is extremely difficult, and most people who try it are frankly not up to the task.

This is definitely not the case for Pinchi. We have admired him for as long as we have known him, and yet he still continues to surprise us.

Support tonight was expertly chosen.

We missed the bulk of Caitlin Grindley’s set – but we must point out that she was going down a storm to the point where she was actually asked back for an encore.

And Chloe Pitchford was a pure delight. Her songs were full of hooks and were utterly relatable. But it was her between song banter that we will most remember. She was honest, self-deprecating and very, very funny. I could be a little biased, as like my mother she hails from Lancaster and described the difficulties of growing up gay there – believe me when I say that I can relate.

Pictures by Graham Smillie

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