MARK Radcliffe is being given some security questions to answer in his bank and is asked for his occupation.
“Broadcaster,” he replies.
“Sorry,” comes the answer from behind the counter.
“That’s not on our drop down menu.”
And that’s the essence of the man. It’s often difficult to pin down exactly what he is.
At the Pyramid, armed only with a Gretsch guitar plugged into a small amp resting on a table, he flits between stand-up comic, raconteur, singer, songwriter, guitarist and general life observer with seamless ease.
The audience appreciates the versatility and the intimacy.
The bank anecdote (he eventually surveys the menu and chooses ‘kissogram’ as his vocation) is just one example of his quirky selection of stories, anecdotes and observations, mainly containing highlights from Radcliffe’s 30-year TV and radio career, perfectly tailored to laugh-out-loud pay-off lines.
Some one-liner snippets borrowed from listener contributions to his radio show perhaps don’t hit the mark quite as well.
But the natural warmth of Radcliffe enables him to relay tales of meeting heroes like Bowie, Jagger and McCartney with no name-dropping egotism.
He’s as starstruck and overwhelmed with disbelief as we would be.
However his own songs – and particularly the lyrics – provide the real high points.
Covering subjects from Anglesey to ageing, grandads to dead dogs floating down the Irwell, there’s a fine mix of comedy and poignancy, as well as some nifty guitar work.
It’s all very impressive and Radcliffe is as surprised as anyone.
“Have you had a good time?” he asks with the genuine concern of someone who, on only the second night of his solo tour, is clearly out of his comfort zone.
Whether it be in folk bands or in radio duos with Marc Riley and, for the past 10 years, Stuart Maconie, this is someone who thrives on having someone to bounce off.
He overcomes the unease but not before announcing: “I’m the support act.
“There’ll be an interval then the headline act will be on. That’s me as well!”
Nice of him to warn us – but nobody minded in the slightest.