I Am Kloot won’t go away. They are beginning to dominate my shuffle and I wondered whether another album was going to tip things over the edge. However their performance last night Islington Assembly Hall has inspired me to rush to pre-order their latest album, Let it All In.
At first glance there was nothing different about the Kloot set: Pete Jobson lovingly embraced his bass, Andy Hargreaves effortlessly stroked the drums, and John Bramwell, his foot on a beer crate, throbbed to his own melody and quipped about drink and disaster. But there was something that made everything and everyone in the band better last night.
The trio have been tenaciously playing together for years – through gritted teeth and record-label let-downs they have carried on. Their last album, Sky at Night, was produced by Guy Garvey and Craig Potter from fellow northern band Elbow. As a result the Mercury nominated work was laced with Elbow strings and whilst it remains one of my favourite albums ever, it felt over-orchestrated, perhaps too smoothed out and true Kloot grit softened. However, with Potter and Garvey’s hand less obvious, last night Kloot revealed who they really are. Nestled amongst classics like To You, From Your Favourite Sky, and No Fear of Falling their new songs felt like they belonged. Without giving too much away, the set included intimate guitar moments and edgy big sounds, that even Bramwell confessed “scared the shit out of me”. There were more songs about the night and cloudy skies, bullets, television and love, but whilst both lyrics and melodies take you by the hand and lead you perilously close to cliché, there is genius in how Kloot flip to reveal the dark swirl of their uneasy underbelly. Kloot forces your face into sadness, anger and fear at tranquil moments when you least expect it – and it is thrilling. Listening to Kloot was once described as having shards of glass in the candyfloss. Last night the candy and the glass was in everyone’s mouth. Closing the show with Twist was the icing (and the blood) on the cake.
It’s as if Bramwell has finally grown into his dad’s coat – the one he has been eying on the coat rack for decades. It fits perfectly now and it has a credibility and a history that much of the music world lacks. These are songs meant to be delivered by a gravely 40-something, greying Mancunian. The London crowd roared their support when the Mancunian uttered, “Fuck the X-Factor”. But it’s not about not being popular, its about not being mainstream. You can be one without the other. Part of the motivation behind Askance is a response to a world full of vacuous, meaningless drivel inspired by money rather than talent. The X-Factor ethos permeates art, literature and music. But we also live in a world better connected than ever before, where creative excellence can more easily be shared. There are not many “unsuccessful” bands that could sell out on a Tuesday night to such an enthusiastic crowd. Kloot, your time has come, let it all in.
You can pre-order Let It All In now on www.iamkloot.com
(Photograph of John Bramwell by Caroline Jaine, 2012)