It has taken five years, three albums and two record labels, but it would appear that from Barcelona to Bangor, the I Am Kloot bandwagon is gaining momentum. Without jumping into bed with the music press, moving to London or robbing houses to fund drug addictions, the Manchester 3-piece have quietly gone about their business while allowing their music to do the talking. A sell-out return to their home city only further cemented the band’s current status.
Opening with new track 'Coincidence' is no way to get a party started, but then this isn’t that kind of party and I Am Kloot are not a band who like to conform. With bass player Pete Jobson sat down and Andy Hargreaves’ drums positioned centre stage, this was more akin to gate crashing a jam session, which is not to say that I Am Kloot don’t put on a great show. Stripping things down to the bare essentials, the three-piece still manage to create an intense wall of sound which filled the historic venue, without any need for props or spectacular lighting.
John Bramwell has perfected the art of the Jekyll and Hyde songwriter, which currently marks him out as one of the UK’s finest. In addition to the contrasting cute melodies and dark lyrical content of 'Twist' and 'An Ordinary Girl', Bramwell can also do plain beautiful, encapsulated best by the hopeless romanticism of 'Because' ("Kill me before you die, Because I love you"), which could bring a tear to the eye of a hardened hooligan.
The traditional self-deprecation and verbal exchanges with the audience have become a staple part of any Kloot gig, and serve to break down any barrier between artist and audience. These are your mates on stage rattling through a few numbers interspersed with the odd joke, which essentially makes you feel a part of it.
The former supermarket manager from Hyde was in typical sardonic mood as he regularly addressed those up on the balcony to ensure they hadn’t nodded off, and responded to requests. “Play Morning Rain?” Bramwell replied to one member of the audience. “We just played it two songs ago. It’s nice to know you’ve been listening though.”
Bramwell’s rasping vocals complement the delightful melodies of 'Astray' and 'No Fear of Falling', yet provide a sinister undertone to 'Sand & Glue'. The highlights of a marathon 23-track set, were a sparkling rendition of Storm Warning and the ethereal 'To You', ably assisted by Elbow’s Guy Garvey. The only controversy came when the band failed to re-emerge for the traditional, and somewhat clichéd encore, but such non-conformity is precisely what we’ve come to expect from I Am Kloot.