Lord-Huron-Lonesome-Dreams– THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER –

The punters inside the city’s most opulent venue tonight are at the more mature end of the gig-going spectrum, and they’re stood in rapt silence at Nataly Dawn. Her short blonde hair is swept forward from left-to-right while she flicks at a decrepit looking guitar which could have been cobbled together from the remains of her granny’s sideboard.

 “This one’s about my Grandmother I actually like…” she quips at the start of ‘How I Knew Her’, banishing any shadow of doubt about her instrument’s origins.

 For the most part, her gentle thrums rarely deviate from pleasant, if unexceptional indie-folk, but when she does build up to a mild gallop, as on the elasticated ‘Araceli’, a full band set up would undoubtedly be of benefit.

By contrast, Lord Huron started life in 2010 as frontman Ben Schneider’s solo project, since expanded to a quintet. They’re brought stagewards by a scene-setting intro tape of caws and whistles, evoking dusty frontier towns dotted with cactii and tumbleweeds, all set beneath the biggest sky you’ve ever imagined.

Schneider tips the crowd an appreciative nod of his cowboy hat, and although it’s more 10-pint than 10-gallon, it still takes him a couple of goes to lift his guitar strap over his head.

‘Ends Of The Earth’ opens proceedings as it does on their ‘Lonesome Dreams’ début album, with percussionist Mark Berry resembling a badly designed robot thanks to the washboard clinging to his chest.

 For a band who have essentially been transplanted from the Gold Rush era, they still sound refreshingly modern, thanks in part to the West African inflections sprinkled throughout, but also because listening to Lord Huron feels as though you’re about to embark on an open-ended adventure.

 Men’s toes tap and ladies’ shoulders bob in time to ‘She Lit A Fire’, the glitter ball above us revolves anti-clockwise to ‘The Man Who Lives Forever’, while everyone sings their heart out to ‘The Stranger’, a song which is frankly in a different dimension and is the ideal show closer and ultimate show stopper. Immense.