I Am Kloot - Manchester Academy 1 - 3.5.08

From a humble semi-acoustic three piece to a powerhouse quintet, there have been significant changes in the I Am Kloot camp since their last studio album "Gods And Monsters" three years ago. Free from the constraints of a traditional recording contract their latest release "I Am Kloot Play Moulah Rouge" is self released. Home town gigs are always special occasions for fans and the band alike. as frontman Johnny Bramwell whose shaggy perm was last seen as fashionable with 1970s premiership footballer's goes on to list European cities the band has played and Wolverhampton (his laconic dry wit always intact) he proudly proclaims that its Manchester that really matters. This makes the atmosphere even more jubilant and celebratory, but sadly those glamorous dancing girls Troupe are absent and the usual duet with Guy Garvey doesn't materialize.

The two new members, The Mcleod brothers, Norman on pedal steel guitar and Colin on organ add a touch of country tinged folk rock, not unlike the best moments of Del Amitri. Johnny has also got in tough with his inner rock star, relishing his moment to preen and pose on electric guitar, a far cry from his one man an acoustic guitar image when he's played solo recently. I Am Kloot let rip in rumbustious fashion during opener "One Man Brawl" with bearded drummer Andy Hargreaves seemingly possessed by the spirit of Keith Moon as he thrashes around in spectacular rhythmic splendour. Placid bassist Peter Jobson always perched on stool detached with a natural air of coolness suddenly becomes more animated than usual.

Much more gentle and poetic is "Hey Little Bird", one of many new songs played tonight which is warmly received. Requests from fans come at an alarming rate which the band appreciate like "Twist" which bizarrely becomes a singalong favourite with a least half the venue singing in unison "you've got blood on your legs, I love you". As the last night of the tour, Johnny's vocal becomes a tad croaky and hoarse but his presence and star quality shine through with the crowd behind him cheering the lad on with genuine warmth.

"Someone Like You" off the new album is further proof is any is needed that the band are yet to reach their peak. "Proof" is the indisputable highlight of the gig with the fans drowning out the band with their own special rendition of the song as I Am Kloot bask momentarily in the glory in a typical no nonsense Mancunian way you understand.

With an encore from which includes support act Ferraby Lionheart on theremin it's been another effortlessly superb gig from Manchester's finest who after nearly ten years and four albums are still for reason Britain's best kept secret

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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