There’s a fizz in Alter-Ego. A rare air of anticipation bordering on the non-belief that Braid – no, whisper it –  Braid, are in town. In this very building. Tonight. The very idea that this could happen was preposterous even a few months ago, after all, they split up in 1999 and haven’t ventured too far from their native Illinois since their 2011 reformation. They’re grown ups now after all, but somehow, they’re here.

As if that’s not enough, the promoters haven’t skimped on the support bands, either. First up are local heroes, Well Wisher, augmented for the occasion by Doctrines frontman, Jamie Birkett, who’s standing in for regular guitarist, Ian Breen, who picked the worst possible week for his holidays.

Doused in seedy red lights, they look like a gang of niche hookers whose ‘extras’ include raunchy talk about Weezer b-sides, but they’re a charming bunch. Punchy without being supercharged, and with enough nimble-fingered riffs and twiddly flourishes to keep you on your toes at all times, they’re a consistently fun prospect.

By contrast, Crash Of Rhinos have got their serious heads on tonight. Focussing on tracks from their excellent new, but still not quite bedded-in Knots LP, they take a bit of time to build up a head of steam, but once they reach it on 3rd song, ‘Opener’, they’re unstoppable.

Bassist Ian Draper, is star of the show, addressing the mic with shoulders square and a leviathan of a roar that could even shrivel the larynx of Clutch’s Neil Fallon, and although it’s a shame that they completely eschew the fantastic material from their début album (and ‘Interiors’ from the new one), ‘Speeds Of Ocean Greyhounds’ is a triumphant closer.

It’s not a night for wearing light-coloured tops, as sweat patches turn into sweat ponds clinging to people’s backs throughout the humid basement despite everyone’s fervent t-shirt billowing efforts. Anyone wearing jeans is almost certainly doomed to contract thrush.

Yeast imbalances aside, this is Braid’s first show in Manchester for 15 long years, and any pretence that this isn’t a nostalgia trip for all concerned is blown away by the fact that they’re here to play their seminal 1998 album, Frame & Canvas in full.

It’s also a celebration from the very start, though, with the “YEAH!” in The New Nathan Detroits being completely drowned out by the crowd, dozens of hands punching skywards to ram home the exclamation, and by time ‘Killing A Camera’ struts into earshot a few moments later it’s inconceivable that a room full of people in or approaching their thirties – band included – have ever looked so happy.

Frontman, Bob Nanna is a master gesticulator, subconsciously playing out lyrics with his right hand when the gaps in chords allows, while impish bassist, Todd Bell strides back and forth like a pre-match boxer apart from when ‘First Day Back’ causes him and the melted faithful down the front to leap around like it was, well, 1998.

 The seven song encore features a couple of new offerings which suffer from a lack of familiarity rather than quality, but when you’ve got back up in the shape of ‘What A Wonderful Puddle’, ‘Please Drive Faster’ and the incomparable ‘Forever Got Shorter’ (complete with it’s Morrissey-tastic “frustration can be gorgeous” line), it’s hardly a problem.

They leave the stage promising that a new album is in the offing, so here’s hoping it won’t be another decade-and-a-half until they’re back.