I Am Kloot

I Am Kloot


It’s the first time seeing I Am Kloot live and I’m very excited it’s happening at my favourite venue, the Albert Hall. Expectations are high, and they are definitely exceeded. These gentlemen are called John Bramwell (vocals, guitar), Peter Jobson (bass) and Andy Hargreaves (drums) and they provide a deluxe experience tonight. They have everything I like: they can actually play instruments, which seems obvious but it’s not, they are simultaneously proud and humble in a way that only Northern people can be, they are funny, they are elegant and they don’t need to do stupid things on stage because their music speaks for itself.

When I Am Kloot start their set at 9pm, the Albert Hall overflows with humans. Specifically, humans over 30, data gathered through accurate visual statistics from the royal balcony. Thank god, this means that we are spared the hormones-led behaviour of the pubescent section of Warpaint’s audience. As soon as the band appears on stage and the hall explodes into a tsunami of cheer and applause, I understand that this is going to be one of those love-fuelled ‘Mancunian band – Mancunian audience’ nights. The Latin proverb according to which nobody is a prophet in their home land does not seem to apply in this city, as Mancunians are very proud of their bands and they can easily be heard saying things like: ‘we make the best music in the world’. And it would be pointless to argue that their statement, put in historical and geographical perspective, might be inaccurate, so you concur, because, in the end, it’s probably true.

Tonight I Am Kloot have reappeared in their core 3-piece line-up, after a few years described by Jobson as a ‘corporate setup’ that was the most commercially successful but the most unrewarding. One of the first things many of us notice, and that Bramwell will sarcastically underline, is that the gorgeous Jobson will play standing tonight. While I had actually appreciated in live videos the fact that he usually plays seated – as I link sitting with accuracy – tonight I am absolutely enchanted by the way this man not only plays the bass, but also holds it and moves on stage, arching his back and throwing his head backwards, with that exquisite look à la Bad Seeds. Perhaps I should talk about music now, not perfectly cut blazers and hair. I’m vain and I know it.

I Am Kloot photo by Francesca Nottola

I Am Kloot photo by Francesca Nottola

The men warm up the already magmatic atmosphere by shooting ‘One Man Brawl’, ‘Cuckoo’ and ‘Life in a Day’. Bramwell specifies that tonight’s setlist has been democratically compiled on the basis of an online survey, and it covers pretty much all their albums, from Natural History to Sky at Night, except for Let It All In.

After playing ‘This House is Haunted’, Bramwell tells us of that time when, after recording the song and listening to it while driving, he liked it so much that he had to stop the car to tell himself how ‘fucking brilliant’ it was. The kind of humble brag which would be unbearable from anyone else, but that we actually enjoy from I Am Kloot because they have taken our hand and shown us their vulnerability through their introspective lyrics. Die-hard fans are actually screaming like crazy and threatening the stability of the Albert Hall when Bramwell says he’s impressed by our ‘good manners’.

The programme unfolds with ‘Gods and Monsters’, ‘Dead Men’s Cigarettes’, an intense version of ‘The Same Deep Water As Me’ and a perfect ‘Someone Like You’. After half an hour, Peter Jobson and Andy Hargreaves leave the stage to Bramwell for a brief solo set. The latter has embarked on an acoustic solo tour of the UK last year and more dates are scheduled for 2015. Bramwell’s soothing singing and acoustic guitar create a very romantic and melancholic atmosphere, and I mean it in the best possible way, with ‘At The Sea’ and ‘Astray’.

I Am Kloot photo by Francesca Nottola

I Am Kloot photo by Francesca Nottola

When Jobson and Hargreaves return, we are given a beautiful version of ‘Fingerprints’, which highlights Hargreaves’ impressive range of styles and tools, including brushes, mallets, maracas and rods. He’s one of those drummers who understand that there is a whole universe of possibilities beyond smashing drums and cymbals hysterically with sticks. Thanks Andy. The Albert Hall responds with a gigantic applause and Bramwell continues with ‘Over My Shoulder’, magically turning his acoustic guitar into electric. He then introduces ‘To The Brink’ and ‘Storm Warning’ as being both songs ‘about drinking’, going straight to the heart of the Mancunian crowd, which cheers and sings along.

Next up is ‘Here For The World’, followed by the wonderful ‘A Strange Arrangement of Colour’ and ‘Ferris Wheels’, all greeted with loud approval. From the balcony, I can see everyone singing along to ‘Because’, which is so beautiful in its crescendo of drums.

During the last part of the set Bramwell has stopped chatting to us, since he knows we are completely theirs now. More, please. After ‘Dark Star’ and ‘Strange Without You’, the singer dedicates ‘To You’ to us. Thunderous applause for this and ‘Northern Skies’, which turns the hall into a karaoke party. Massive cheer as soon as the band strikes the first notes of ‘From Your Favourite Sky’, of which I particularly appreciate Jobson’s warm bassline.

After an hour and a half the band dares leaving the stage, causing the loudest stomping protest ever. This is love! Fearing retaliation, I Am Kloot come back immediately and placate the unruly mob with ‘Twist’. Watching 2,500 people singing its chorus line ‘I Love You’ is quite a spectacle.

The mass ends with the song we’ve all been waiting for, ‘Proof’, one of those songs that one just becomes addicted to, like to heroin, crisps and cheese twists. I have not been able to stop listening to it for weeks now, and I just pressed ‘play’ again. And if you try to make me go to rehab I’ll say ‘No, no, no’.

What else can I add? A Mancunian triumph tonight for the indefatigable I Am Kloot. A wonderful, generous, heartfelt gig by three classy musicians and a great audience experience. Thanks everyone. *Presses ‘play’ again*.

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Francesca Nottola

I write, translate, edit texts and take pictures. I solve problems for pensioners and create problems to everyone else. Sometimes a history researcher and language tutor, I would happily live in a national archive or in the head of professional musicians. Unfortunately, I say what I think