Far Out rocked up at Manchester’s Deaf Institute feeling suitably festive – possibly for the first time – on this dreary winter’s night.
Not because of falling snow or a frosty chill, but more due to that comforting sensation of getting reacquainted with a familiar face that only normally comes around once a year.
In fact it’s nearly been three years since we last caught I Am Kloot frontman John Bramwell illuminating an audience during a triumphant two-night stint at The Ritz and some festival shows that treated tens of thousands.
After slogging away for nearly two decades, the success of Kloot’s Sky at Night in 2010 saw them catapulted into mass consciousness. Better late than never.
Consequently, it’s no longer possible to see the trio enchanting the same tiny club venues they would have played ten years ago.
However, an announcement from frontman Bramwell that he would play a pair of stripped-back solo shows at Deaf Institute came as a very pleasant surprise indeed.
Bramwell arrives to a rapturous applause and doesn’t seem too fazed by having the entirety of the show on his shoulders this time around.
The room is almost silent during the first stages of the show as Bramwell dips into some of the finest pieces of craftsmanship from Kloot’s early days. ‘Bigger Wheels’ is an uplifting kind of a ditty and ‘No Fear of Falling’ has the whole venue encapsulated.
At times there is a slightly strange atmosphere here. Bramwell constantly quips as he tunes up between songs, and a quiet audience hang on his every word.
However, now I Am Kloot find themselves verging on enormo-dome status – especially on home turf – there is an interesting clash between the anorak chin-strokers and the lager-drenched, ‘lad, lads, lads’ chorus-bellowers.
This threatens boiling over slightly tonight as one particularly inebriated gentlemen feels the need to shout out for ‘To the Brink’ during every moment of silence. “You’re right, it is a great song”, Bramwell smiles, before later losing his patience with the request-come-heckle, sarcastically explaining “I thought I’ll do this on a Sunday, surely none of the fuckers will come!”
Shortly after this a full-blown argument ensues between him and nearby audience members and the door staff eject him – ironically just as the opening cords of ‘To The Brink’ start to protrude from Bramwell.
Also strange is that the rest of the audience seem to let themselves go once the interrupter is removed – whether they’re simply trying to rub it in is not all that clear.
Backed up ably by keys and cello, the closing stages really do have us beaming ear-to-ear, safe in the knowledge we are basking in the output of modern Manchester’s finest troubadours.
After bowing out on a high with ‘Northern Skies’ and ‘Proof’, the audience are intent on staying put.
They get their just rewards as Bramwell returns with his pair of helpers and support act Dave Fidler to run through a hurriedly rehearsed but beautifully organic rendition of ‘Lately’.
The chance to see Bramwell back within these more humble surroundings should most definitely not be sniffed at.