Star rating – 9/10
Having been slightly admonished for not covering any of the previous ‘Close Up with...’ events, it is a pleasure to put that right by reviewing this wonderful event featuring I Am Kloot’s front man and songwriter, John Bramwell.
The format is an intimate one, with the opening session a 40 minute interview, followed by a brilliant solo acoustic set of 6 songs, then a question and answer session from the audience. Bramwell is an open, honest, amusing and very engaging interviewee. He hardly needed much prompting from Dave Haslam to recount numerous funny tales, and touching snippets to give a window into his world. Haslam was though, a great enabler, interjecting just enough to keep the tales flowing in the right direction. He started off with the time when he was the Wine and Spirits Manager in Hyde Tesco and somehow managed to seriously over order the whisky, plus leave the stock mysteriously £5,000 short. Obviously not his calling then – Tesco that is, not the booze. But he managed to leave on good terms – I can’t imagine anyone leaving John on anything other than good terms to be honest he is so charming and damn nice.
His song writing technique was explored, and he seems to just get words and melody at the same time in a strange but near perfect process. He has tremendous respect for his follow Kloot members, who he is obviously very much at home with.
Bramwell is not a slick rock star, he is self effacing, witty, intelligent, and seemingly good, if probably slightly wild, company. He does not buy into the Manchester label that is often put on the band, preferring instead to connect with landscapes and night skies. The interview could have gone on for twice as long, at least, as he got into his stride and relaxed into the format.
The acoustic set the followed the interview and did not disappoint. He started off with ‘From Your Favourite Sky’ just because he loves it. And the lyrics show what an insightful songwriter he is – just touching on enough raw nerves to draw the listener in and wonder how on earth he knows just how they feel. And so what is love indeed. He goes to delight with ‘I Believe’ and ‘Storm Warning’. He then hilariously reveals before he sings the song, that he wrote ’86 TVs’ about an experience at Granada Studios with a transsexual. Then a couple of great tracks from their latest, Mercury nominated, ‘Sky At Night’ album.
The Q&A session was just as engaging and touching, even though most of the questions seem to come from his long time friends and housemates. John Bramwell just seems like that kind of guy. He revealed a youthful love of Hawkwind, and a current penchant for classical music like Holst so that his music listening didn't interfere with his own creative processes by crowding out any potential new songs. My world could do with more sensitive, honest song smiths like him.