The smoking ban has a lot to answer for. Throughout tours promoting I Am Kloot’s previous six studio albums, bassist Peter Jobson is found sat down on a stool, cigarette in mouth, thumping out bass lines to perfectly compliment vocalists John Bramwell’s pitch perfect, slightly Dylan-esque vocals.
Now out on the road promoting the recently released live album Hold Back the Night and celebrating 15 years together as a band, the Mancunian three-piece, completed by drummer Andy Hargreaves, have put together a set list comprising a number of songs from the early part of the career, principally the first four albums before 2010’s Mercury Music Prize nominated Sky at Night. And throughout the near two hour set, Jobson stands, no cigarette.
I Am Kloot’s music has always reflected their roots, the sonic equivalent of pulling up your coat collars before venturing outside to walk through a LS Lowry painting and down to the local pub, to discuss ‘beer and disasters’, as Bramwell himself so eloquently describes their style.
Despite patronage from a certain Guy Garvey (producer of three Kloot albums), the band have never produced the anthemic arena rousing chorus of Garvey’s Elbow and been promoted to that league. And that seems to suit them down to the ground on which they have firmly kept their feet.
Combined with Bramwell’s poignant and touching lyrics, I Am Kloot’s musicianship is superior to the vast majority of their contemporaries, emphasised by their long standing and loyal fan base. This was one of two nights at the Brudnell Social Club, the second one sold out, this being a ‘warm-up gig’, joked Bramwell.
Opening with One Man Brawl, a bruising, strong start to the set, it was quickly followed by Cuckoo and Life in a Day, both blistering numbers. And then the tone was turned down, the upturned beer crate brought out for Bramwell to rest his foot on for the remainder of the gig whilst the band ran through a set spanning their entire career. ‘The Same Deep Water as Me’ is a stunning song recorded, live it takes on another dimension completely.
The band left Bramwell to demonstrate the quality of his vocals for two solo numbers ‘At The Sea’ and ‘Ashtray’, his voice perfect for a venue of this size and acoustics of the Brudnell.
Introducing a perfect ‘To the Brink’ with ‘this is our only song about drinking’, at least until ‘Storm Warning’ (‘our other song about drinking’) the songs and melodic tunes are relentless, through ‘Dark Star’ before the entire audience join in ‘Northern Skies’ and ‘From Your Favourite Sky’. The audience which had started the evening sporadically sat through the venue are all now, as one, at the front of the stage. And they needed to be to raise the noise and call I Am Kloot back for an encore where they bring an amazing night to a close with ‘Twist’ and ‘Proof’.
They may be able to boast Garvey-produced albums, Christopher Ecclestone and John Simm in their videos and have been beaten to the Mercury Prize by the similarly melancholy The XX, but I Am Kloot will always make you feel like you’ve just discovered the best band in the world that nobody else has heard of. The quality of their songs more than justifies their longevity in the industry and live their back catalogue is taken to another level.
This was a gig of the very highest quality. Bramwell announced that despite being from the wrong side of the Pennines, he had driven around Yorkshire during the day and loved it. ‘Don’t go home then’ was the retort from the crowd and there wouldn’t have been a single person who, having been blown away over the past two hours, would have disagreed with that sentiment.
Gig date: April 16