On the last day of cold dark January there could have been no better band to see than Manchester’s I Am Kloot at The Old Fire Station in Bournemouth, a suitably small venue to experience the story-telling, nocturnal musings of their latest album Sky at Night. It was also the last night of their tour.
The band: Andrew Hargreaves (drums), Peter Jobson (bass) and song writer John Bramwell (guitar and vocals)- formed in 1999 and count fellow Northern band Elbow as friends (Guy Garvey and Craig Potter produced Sky at Night– their influence is clear in the subtly romantic album). Fans of the likes of Elbow, Doves and folkier artists such as Villagers and Bon Iver will like I Am Kloot’s heartfelt, simply arranged music. If you’ve not heard of them, I’d highly recommend starting with ‘It’s Just the Night’, a song which exemplifies the band’s style.
I Am Kloot have never been short of critical acclaim but aren’t mainstream enough to have acquired legions of fans, though their 2010 Mercury Prize nomination may help. Sky at Night, the band’s fifth album, is a beautifully natural, poetic and dark love story, celestial themes mixing with earthy drunken ramblings. The crowd gathered in The Old Fire Station was small but clearly adoring.
Support act Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards kicked off the evening with a fairly uninspiring start, failing to make much of an impact on the audience with their deep-voiced, folk style songs.
To the delight of the crowd I Am Kloot began their hour and a half set with their most commercially successful single ‘Northern Skies’, followed by ‘To the Brink’- another track from Sky at Night – and then a selection of songs from earlier albums, including the rockier ‘Storm Warning’ and ‘Bigger Wheels’. The band were joined by a pianist/accordionist, saxophonist/flautist and a guitarist, allowing eclectic combinations of instruments. The long set meant that almost all of their best tracks were played, not disappointing any loyal fans.
A highlight of the evening was Bramwell alone on the stage, accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar, with mesmerising performances of ‘I Still Do’ and ‘No Fear of Falling’, proving his flawless vocal ability and charisma, and allowing the simple beauty of his songs to shine; totally magic. Bramwell was at complete ease with the audience throughout, showing an appealingly wry Northern sense of humour that kept the mood light, introducing tracks in a typically self-deprecating manner- “this song is about drinking and disaster”- as he swigged cans of Guinness.
They finished the set with brilliant performances of the upbeat ‘Radiation’ and uplifting ‘Proof’ with the crowd singing along, and then satisfying the audience’s desire for an encore with ‘Same Shoes’. As close to perfect as a gig can get; captivating music, great atmosphere and a truly memorable night.
Good: As well as being incredibly talented the band were very friendly- minutes after leaving the stage they were outside the venue having a cigarette and were happy to shake hands and chat with fans.
Bad: If I had to be picky, the one tiny negative point was the fact that they didn’t play my personal favourite of their tracks, ‘To You’.