Review: I Am Kloot at the Albert Hall, by Mike Atkinson
"This is our first sit-downer of the tour", said I Am Kloot's John Bramwell, gazing out over a packed Albert Hall. "Not that we're experimenting on you, or anything." But given the suitability of this former Temperance Hall, with its late Victorian architecture, magnificent pipe organ and churchy acoustics, it was hard to imagine the Manchester trio having quite the same impact in a more typical stand-up rock venue.
The Albert Hall doesn't stage many gigs, so this felt like a special occasion, as if an exception was being made. The artwork to I Am Kloot's sixth and latest album, Let It All In, had been hoisted up at the back of the stage, almost obscuring the organ behind. It was a bold stroke for such an unassuming act, but the band's fortunes have taken a marked upturn in recent years: a Mercury nomination for their 2010 album Sky At Night, and an unprecedented Top Ten placing for the latest release, just a few weeks ago.
"Some of you have been sticking with us for some time", Bramwell observed. "By the looks of you, anyway", he added, to laughter. "And we appreciate it." A genial front man, with a relaxed manner and a droll turn of phrase, his stage patter had a welcoming effect, making us all feel like a part of the show.
As the epic, twenty-two song set progressed, the chatty asides ebbed away, leaving Bramwell's songs to do all the talking. There was plenty of fresh material to digest, including the recent single Hold Back The Night, the lilting, Beatles-esque Masquerade, and the bitter, lovelorn Bullets – but Sky At Night provided many of the most outstanding moments, with songs that seem to have accrued extra power over time. Three of these closed the main set: Lately, a show-stopping Radiation – which left the audience briefly dumbstruck – and Proof, their anthem for lonely drinkers everywhere.
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Three additional musicians wandered on and off the stage, adding keyboards, extra guitars, brass, woodwind and accordion. All six players returned for the encore. The audience stayed standing, light bulbs lit up the backdrop for the first and only time, and current single These Days Are Mine brought this exceptional night to a rousing, exultant conclusion.
Set list: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, Astray, No Fear Of Falling, I Still Do, Fingerprints, To The Brink, Mouth On Me, Lately, Radiation, Proof, These Days Are Mine.