I Am Kloot, London Koko

23rd April 2008 – 7.43 am

Last night I headed in to the city for the I Am Kloot gig at Koko. I got to the venue early enough to see the support act, which turned out to be a solo performer with a guitar and mouth organ. I was a little wary that act could fall flat as there is only so much variety that can be achieved with a single acoustic guitar, although I reminded myself that Johnny Bramwell, of I Am Kloot, manages to create wondrous songs on stage with just a guitar. Even so, there was little to distinguish between most of the songs of the support act, whose name I forget. The lyrics were lacking metaphor and lost my interest above listening to the vocal quality, and I spent half my time wondering what the songs would be like if there was some backing. It was pleasant enough music though, and I've seen many supports acts who have been far worse.

I Am Kloot never disappoint. There is nothing not to like about the band, from their energetic songs to their soft, lilting songs they inject a passion in to their playing that can be clearly heard and seen, and is carried from the strong lyrics. Other bands who play with such personal commitment often shy away from public performance and are probably trying to pretend that the audience isn't in front of them half the time, but Bramwell doesn't have this problem, swapping banter and sharing jokes with the audience between just about every song. He starts slowly and drily this evening, introducing new songs as 'this is a new song', knowing that fans will see his humour rising.

Bramwell introduces Twist by saying that he has 'never played this song on this guitar before', and after finishing a wonderful rendition adds with a grin that 'we didn't even try it out during soundcheck, but I thought 'fuck it, it's only London'.' After another song the rest of the band leave the stage, obviously taking a break to let Bramwell perform a couple of songs solo, but we are told that 'the smoking ban has hit the rest of the band hard'. And then he goes straight in to Fear of Falling, a truly delightful and uplifting song. At most gigs there is always a low hum of conversation that pervades the entire set list, yet during the solo songs no one dares miss a single note. I have only seen such polite attention paid to Mazzy Star and The Sundays before, and it is a testament to the wonder of the songs and respect for Bramwell that audience is enraptured such that hardly a whisper can be heard. It seems like every song is a highlight, and yet the band still have something better to come. The set ends with Life in a Day, bringing the evening to a more-than-satisfying climax, and even that is trumped when the inevitable encore ends with I Believe.

The music is great. I was a little concerned that my lack of familiarity with the new songs would dampen my enjoyment of them, and whilst that was probably true it didn't seem to matter, as most of the new songs were interesting and entertaining at least a little even on a first hearing. Even so, I find it quite difficult to get a good reading of music on a first hearing and cannot say for sure how much I'll like the new album based on the gig, but as all the of the older songs played during the gig resonated quite deeply with me I can't help but think the new songs will surely end up being just as good with time.

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