I Am Kloot, Islington Assembly Hall, London
Wednesday 21 November 2012
"This song is about drinking... and disaster," frontman John Bramwell drily announces before launching into the astringent "To the Brink".
The gruff Mancunian trio major in pained, ale-stained laments, delivered in Bramwell's battle-trenches-weary drawl. His exquisitely cracked voice is like a heady blend of Richard Ashcroft, Willie Nelson and Donovan, and his gloomily romantic tracks deal with regret, "masked vigilantes of love", sorrow and a fair bit about the weather (“Morning Rain”, “Sunlight Hits the Snow”, “Stormy Weather” and so on).
They're akin to their pals, Elbow, then, but less anthemic, and with more bruised, boozed-up shins: they're more Philip Larkin than William Blake.
Formed in 1999, I Am Kloot, which consists of Bramwell, Pete Jobson (guitar) and Andy Hargreaves (drums), finally garnered attention and acclaim with 2010's Mercury nominated album, Sky at Night, produced by Guy Garvey.
The three fortysomethings are clearly keen to keep momentum going and the hard-working indie outfit release their latest intense record, Let It All In, in January. This is an intimate showcase for the new, richly orchestrated album at a hear-a-pin-drop venue, and Bramwell is at his droll and provocative best, with his right leg propped up on a box like Errol Flynn addressing his (not so) merry men.
Their followers respond with whoops and hollers - it feels like a polite Kloot Club revivalist meeting - and are rewarded with a blistering and generous 22-song-set, a third of which are new songs and another third of which come from their splendid 2001 debut, Natural History.
Which means that we're treated to the wonderfully acidic "Storm Warning" ("Hell for leather, lathered, drunk, you're soused/ You're pissed, you're sunk/ The juke box now is drunk"), the savage "Twist" ("There was a time when we were filled with laughter/ Haplessly hoping happy ever after/ Did we string up a heart, let it swing from the rafters/ And bleed"), and, best of all, "To You", with the forlorn plea "Someone, somewhere, marry me".
Thankfully, Bramwell cushions the harsh lyrical blows with droll humour, quipping "We're from Manchester and there's no two ways about it, it rains." before Natural History's "Morning Rain".
Their new material is equally robust, with "Mannequin" sounding like The Beatles circa Hard Day's Night and the soaring "Hold Back the Night" could be their very own "One Day Like This", as Bramwell rasps “Fill up your days/ And your pockets with plenty/ Soon they'll be empty/ Once again stop all the seasons/ The sun and the rain/ Until you stop believin'".
After years languishing in the shadows, this climate-fixated band certainly deserve their time in the sun.
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