It’s the typical Mancunian night. The rain is unremitting and miserly, the drains are kicking up a stink outside One Piccadilly, and to make matters worse, we’re off to The Roadhouse.

It’s slipped down the pecking order of the city’s gig venues, and thanks to the rise of the Ruby Lounge and Soup Kitchen, it can’t even claim to be the best subterranean one any more. But what’s this? The snooker club beer selection has been replaced by all manner of exotic imports served by bar staff who are both friendly and enthusiastic, and we’re even entrusted with pint glasses rather than the lip-snagging plastics of yore.

How times change, and for once it’s for the better.

Casting our ears stagewards, though, and London newcomers, Eliza And The Bear, are gunning their way through a lovingly crafted set, the highlight of which comes from an unnamed romp with an “I’ve got friends, I’ve got family” refrain which absolutely will bury itself into your mind unless you’re wearing a special anti-catchy-bastard-chorus suit of armour.

Harmonies chime their way around the blackened basement, and while they’re far from the finished article, there’ll be plenty written about them whether they trundle safely down the middle of the road or go adventurously off-piste. They’re at a crossroads, and for the sake of music, let’s hope they choose the latter.

Minneapolis trio, Now, Now, are in town for the second time in 10 days after accompanying Motion City Soundtrack around the country for a few dates, and a respectable-sized crowd of college kids in cute hats – more commonly seen on toddlers with matching crocodile or bumble bee wellies – welcomes them back.

A set relying heavily on their new ‘Threads’ LP gets off to a wonky start when dainty frontwoman, Cacie Dalanger, forgets to switch her guitar amp on until midway through opener, ‘Prehistoric’, but we’re properly up and running by time ‘Wolf’ comes around, careening into unsignposted melodies and a consummate piece of vocal jousting between Dalanger and her sparring partner, Jess Abbott, a few yards to her left.

They’re an endearingly goofy bunch, with between-song chatter focussing on Britney Spears, the Backwards Knees Man, and their new-found love for Primark (“a treasure chest of treasures…I bought some American flag underwear there” – Cacie).

The main snag, in fact, only real snag at all other than them not playing ‘Giants’, is the pace. Most songs are generously laden with hooks, but the sluggish tempo of the majority only serves to highlight how extraordinarily good they can be when they do put their foot down; the chorus of ‘Lucie, Too’, the rapid handclaps of ‘Oh. Hi.’ and the indestructible ‘Thread’ which closes proceedings on a high, albeit a slightly less lofty one than it perhaps should have.