I Am Kloot – review

St Philip's Church, Salford

After a decade of hard labour, Manchester's I Am Kloot finally made their commercial breakthrough in 2010 with the Mercury-nominated Sky at Night, which dented the Top 30 with what frontman John Bramwell describes as "songs about drinking and disaster". Even in these holy environs, the subject of alcohol is the first thing that passes the singer's lips.

"Drinking in a church..." he chuckles, between sips of something that hopefully isn't the communion wine. "They're fully licensed. It came from on high." With a foot on a beer crate and his glass raised in the air, the quipmaster/singer is a far cry from the characters usually commanding audiences here, but with the trio (plus strings and brass) surrounded by candles, Kloot deliver a spiritual experience.

Bramwell's no rocking vicar, though his songs are sermons of sorts: gritty but pretty symphonies about life on the slopes delivered with morality, humanity, drama and empathy. "Do you fancy a drink? I know a place called the brink," he sings, beautifully, dipping into his well of poetic one-liners with the warm, almost conversational style that makes him sound as if he's addressing the audience individually. Kloot are previewing their forthcoming album, Let It All In, which should accelerate the band's hard-earned momentum. Where the words "this is a new one" can prompt audiences to stampede to the bar, the trumpet-laden title track, Hold Back the Night, and deliciously wistful A Mouth On Me are wonderful songs deservedly cheered to the rafters.

A 22-song set spans new and old. I Still Do is stark, sad and mesmeric. The lovely new Some Better Day blows up "gales of life and laughter". There's an amusing moment when an impromptu audience choir yell "Without yoooouuu" back at Bramwell comically badly. But surely only the man upstairs can stop them now.

Contributor

Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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