I Am Kloot, Bush Hall, London

  • @Tom_Mendelsohn

I Am Kloot are the very definition of a cult band, a critically adored three-piece who've never made waves much outside of a tiny but fervent fanbase.

This base is out in force tonight, but even then the auditorium is probably less than two-thirds full. It's sad, but not unexpected, considering Kloot's profile.

For the first half of the show, the three members of the band proper are joined on stage by a small string section and a trumpeter. It adds body to the songs, even if there isn't room on the tiny stage for everyone to breathe in at once.

They've always been pugnacious with their glumness, so no matter how bleak the lyrics, they've somehow never seemed over-indulgent with it. There's a maudlin swing to their music, a kind of gallows jauntiness that pulls them away from the brink of overdoing it. Perhaps its their age – their self-awareness saves them from becoming cloying.

It's the same trick pulled by their more famous but no less lugubrious Manchester colleagues Elbow and Doves, who infuse their songs with droll misery in the same way. Why, ultimately, these other two should be so much more successful than Kloot is a mystery.

The trouble tonight is that the songs are a touch one-paced. While it's true we're all here to experience our gloom at a stately lilt, as one grim little refrain cruises idly into another without a break in tempo, it gets a little hard to concentrate for the full set.

The evening is peppered with new songs, taken from their forthcoming fifth album, Sky at Night. It says something that these tracks fit in so easily; they're instantly familiar, and fit very neatly in with the rest of the canon. However, the Kloot five albums into a career barely sound any different to the Kloot of 10 years ago – there's been no progression, and no development of sound. That's not necessarily a criticism, but it could easily explain why Bush Hall is half empty.