I Am Kloot: Barbican, London – live review
I Am Kloot, Jesca Hoop
19th Feb 2013
On the back of their first top-ten album “Let It All In”, I Am Kloot have embarked on a two-week long sold-out national tour. Long-time fan Dave Brown cast aside his aversion to seated theatre halls to catch them at their sold out show at the Barbican in London. Accompanying this review are photo’s by Elspeth Moore. (In the name of full disclosure we should admit that the pics were actually taken a few days earlier at I Am Kloot’s Manchester show).
The I Am Kloot bandwagon has been slowly gathering momentum over the past few years with the Mercury nomination for Sky At Night and now the Top Ten (and number one in physical record stores) album Let It All In. It’s with this backdrop that they have sold out their biggest London show to date in the salubrious surroundings of the Barbican Centre.
The wonderful Jesca Hoop opens the show with forty minutes of her crazy tales of love and life lived through the eyes and mind of a Californian exiled in Manchester. She charms the crowd with her between song chatter and edgy, quirky folky electronic pop.
Kloot take to the stage just after nine and their set tonight is heavily based around their three best-known albums, debut Natural History and the aforementioned Sky At Night and Let Them All In. It makes for a much more mellow and relaxed set than previous tours given the nature of their last two albums, and their line-up is augmented by strings, keyboards, accordion, brass and additional guitars at various points through the set. The seated venue affords the crowd less opportunity to turn and chat to their friends which affected parts of the Manchester shows at the weekend, so there’s a hushed reverence to the point you can even hear the subtleties when drummer Andy uses his brushes in the slower, more delicate parts of the set.
Frontman, John Bramwell, has the crowd eating out of his hand with his off-the-cuff, possibly worse-for-wear, charm. As early as the end of the first song, he’s joking about bassist Pete Jobson standing up being one of the highlights of the evening, and later, after Pete and drummer Andy leave the stage whilst John performs At The Sea and No Fear Of Falling, tells us that the solo section was their idea and it was only later he realized it was due to the smoking ban. He jokes about being booed in towns for announcing they’re from Manchester and chides the audience for the campness of their response, deadpans responses to shouts from the crowd and even jokingly denies the Sunday Times’ labeling of him as a “heavy drinker”.
Of course there’s much more to them than the frontman and his banter. Andy and Pete provide the backdrop for John’s tales of drinking and disaster and they’ve become a supremely tight live band, a little rougher around the edges than the records, particularly Let It All In, but all the better for it. They cope with John’s guitar lead falling out at the start of Fingerprints by improvising an extended intro without evening looking at each other.
John uses the word “sophisticated” when explaining the expanded line up introducing the rest of the band, it’s a dirty, beer-fuelled, slightly dark sophistication, but he has a point. The Barbican, in a sense, is an ideal venue for this side of Kloot. The songs from Let It All In and Sky At Night feel they were made from the transition from John’s home studio to these types of theatres.
Kloot are making that transition from Manchester’s best-kept secret to national treasure smoothly. There’s very little of the theatrics that other Manchester bands have made their calling card, just down-to-earth intensely personal songs that resonate with their audience. There’s no gimmicks, no radical change of direction, no audience participation, just some of the most beautiful, direct and heartfelt songs ever to be written by a British songwriter. You could sing the choruses of the songs to yourself and feel completely natural, but you’d feel a bit odd singing along to them with thousands of people. And that is I Am Kloot in a nutshell.
I Am Kloot played From Your Favourite Sky, Morning Rain, Northern Skies, Bullets, Shoeless, Masquerade, Hey Little Bird, Let Them All In, Some Better Day, The Same Deep Water As Me, Hold Back The Night, At The Sea, No Fear Of Falling, I Still Do, Fingerprints, To The Brink, Mouth On Me, Lately, Radiation, Proof and These Days Are Mine.
All words David Brown & all photo’s © Elspeth Moore. More articles by David can be found here.