Tuesday 13 December 2022

John Bramwell And The Full Harmonic Convergence / Harriet Bradshaw - Manchester Deaf Institute - 11th December 2022

John Bramwell And The Full Harmonic Convergence warmed up a freezing Sunday afternoon in Manchester with an intimate show in the Deaf Institute that previewed tracks from the forthcoming album The Light Fantastic as well as revisiting classics from his I Am Kloot back catalogue as well as his solo album Leave Alone The Empty Spaces. Accompanied by Dave Fidler, Alan Lowles and Harriet Bradshaw, who earlier performed a short four-song set of her own, he demonstrated that he's writing the best material of his career and looking the happiest up on stage that he ever has.

The afternoon starts, once the doors belatedly open, with a short solo set from Harriet Bradshaw, who plays cello with the Full Harmonic Convergence. She's recently released her self-titled solo album which is one of the most beautiful under-the-radar releases of the year. Her four-song set takes some of the highlights from the album - Mermaids And Pondskaters, You And No One Else, Colour And Light and What That Makes Me - and in a room that's mostly attentive and respectful and makes them feel even more affecting with just acoustic guitar and Harriet's rich expressive voice.

She then introduces the rest of the band. As they make their way to the stage, John catches his head on the Deaf Institute's infamous low hanging balcony, something many musicians have done over the years. He laughs it off, telling us he'd warned everyone else in the band about it. Throughout the set he's self-deprecating, joking with the audience, shrugging off heckles and weaving some of them, including a comment that his hair makes him look like Camilla Parker-Bowles, into his between song chat that's worth the admission price on its own. 

Not that it's the reason why we're here. Billed as a last minute show to play most of the forthcoming The Light Fantastic, the crowd are rapt in their adoration of one of the city's finest ever songwriters and a raft of new material that stands proud against anything he's ever done before. Surrounded by accomplished musicians and friends and without the pressure to create a hit record and the arduous toxic process of selling it, there's a relaxed air about the show and it flows through the songs that will make up The Light Fantastic as well as the I Am Kloot songs that are reworked for the four-piece on stage. 

The new songs rightly make up most of the set and they're an exceptional bunch that have been worked on for the past few years so some are familiar to the audience and the others less so. At one point John jokes about them going country after a run of World Full Of Flowers (the standout track of the all with a wistful beauty yet pathos that John captures immaculately), The Light Fantastic (which starts with glorious harmonised vocals that are a million miles away from John's previous world) and a much requested old new favourite Sky Full Of Thunder And Lightning. However, the songs are the most varied set that he's produced since he first started making music. Nothing Left But You starts with a spoken word monologue before music slowly kicks in and the song takes off. I Feel You once again combines vocals to wonderful effect whilst Days Go By is probably the closest to his older work.

There is still space of course for I Am Kloot classics. There's a singalong of the accordion solo on To The Brink even though Alan is here to provide that. I Still Do is as tense, taut and piercing as ever whilst The Moon Is A Blind Eye feels even more dramatic with Harriet's cello in the mix. There's a couple of solo tracks towards the end as well - submitting to audience requests for the rarely played Titanic where he asks for us to tell him the first line before delivering a faultless rendition and Mouth On Me. Northern Skies and Proof give the audience the opportunity to let loose and singalong at the end of the set before John asks us to join in the chorus of a new song of Dave's called Higher with which they finish the set. It's testament to John's modesty and the genuine togetherness about the band he's formed around him.

The Light Fantastic has been a long time coming but on the basis of this show it promises to be up there amongst the finest pieces of work John has put his name to.

John Bramwell's website can be found here.  He is also on Twitter and Facebook.

They played Leave No Traces, Time's Arrow, Leave Alone The Empty Spaces, I Feel Me, Days Go By, To The Brink, Sat Beneath The Lightning Tree, Bullets, 86 TVs, I Still Do, The Moon Is A Blind Eye, World Full Of Flowers, The Light Fantastic, Sky Full Of Thunder And Lightning, It's Just You, Who Is Anybody Anyway, Nothing Left But You, I Am The Sky, Meet Me At The Station, Northern Skies, To You, Titanic, Mouth On Me, Proof and Higher.

Unofficial updates are also available at @iamklootclub on Twitter. 

Harriet Bradshaw's website can be found here and she is on Facebook and Twitter. The album is available on her Bandcamp on digital, CD and vinyl.

Follow Even The Stars on Twitter at @eventhestarsuk and like our Facebook page for all the latest updates

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