Gig review: John Bramwell at Metronome

Words: Lawrence Poole
Photos: Stephanie Webb
Saturday 11 May 2024
reading time: min, words

From Johnny Dangerously to the Full Harmonic Trio: it’s been quite the career arc for Hyde’s John Bramwell. The 59-year-old has come a long way since his days as a solo performer on Saturday morning Granada TV alongside the likes of Caroline Aherne. We went down to Metronome to immerse ourselves in the music...

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John's ardent fanbase, who have followed him since he found his feet with the much-loved and respected, I Am Kloot, in the late 1990s, are out in force here tonight. 

For the first numbers we are treated to Bramwell as a solo artist, the warmth of his voice filling the auditorium like a soothing balm on beautiful numbers like The Great Escape (which featured heavily in underrated Manchester sitcom, Early Doors). 

Yet when one becomes three with the arrival of guitarist and bassist Dave Fidler and synth and steel-pedal guitarist Adrain Gautry, it’s not just the numbers that have swelled such is the injection of multi-layered harmony on the aching Leave No Traces from new album, The Light Fantastic.

Now sporting a shock of Gandalf-esque white hair, Bramwell is excellent company, his easy-going confidence enabling back-and-forth repartee between guitar tuning. He gently ribs ticket-holders as they go to and from the bar and toilets, but have the reverence for his work to not return to their seats mid-number, like cricket fans waiting behind the rope for the over to finish. 

Perched on his ‘Val Doonican’ bar stool, his tongue-in-cheek patter belies his dextrous guitar playing. 86TVs (now the name of an excellent new group featuring members of The Maccabees), is wonderful, while the sumptuous Northern Skies causes harmonies to flood organically - and quite joyously - through the crowd too. 

By the time another standout moment from his cannon, Proof, is aired, it feels like our collective souls have received a welcomed MOT. 

Years and friends may come and go (there’s a lovely tribute to Elbow’s Seldom Seen Kid, the late Bryan Glancy), but there is, as Bramwell shows, always the music.

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