I Am Kloot may be a band that are seen as “social misfits” by the rest of the music scene, especially in the UK, where to be a Bright Young Thing is all important; but I, for one, will raise a glass to that.
The Melkweg was absolutely heaving. And we were very surprised indeed. Last time we'd reviewed an I Am Kloot gig, at the Patronaat last year, the venue was filled to a repectable number; around 200 to 300 people. A great gig admittedly, but the atmosphere was definitely that of a committed fan base appreciating a cherished secret. I Am Kloot, it seemed, had carved out a comfortable niche as a die-hard fan band, if you know what I mean. Not tonight, though. The three of them walked on, saw the crowd, and grinned big ones to each other, maybe a little in disbelief. "How the fuck are you?" roared Johnny Bramwell, before belting out a raucous version of No Direction Home. I Am Kloot's perseverence with touring the lesser known Dutch venues has really paid off, and it was plain to this reviewer that the new album Gods and Monsters was a big hit with the audience. It was also obvious right from the opening bars that the crowd were here to have a good time, laughing and singing along with the band, acting as if everyone was on a huge collective factory outing to Zandvoort (or Blackpool); the band given the role of community cheer-leaders. The end of each song brought forth an enormous and heart-felt cheer, which, given the quality of the songs is not surprising. I Am Kloot have always written good songs.
So, you could argue, nothing seemed to have changed. I Am Kloot are still the same down to earth lads, they still have an easy charm about them that has obviously won them a lot of friends over here. Pete still chain smokes and mooches over his bass and Johnny still wisecracks with the audience, whilst Andy looks benevolently on from behind his kit. But it was the new stuff this evening, and especially the way these new songs were delivered live - by a band who are growing in belief and stature - that made this I Am Kloot gig something special. The new material has a real spring in it's step, and an added warmth that translates brilliantly to the live stage. Stuff like the Stars Look Familiar, Over My Shoulder and Sand and Glue had a fantastic cine-verite sweep that made me draw mental comparisons with Scott Walker and Jacques Brel (not, I hasten to add that I'm old enough to remember them live; just trying in my own feeble way to give Kloot some kind of platform).
They mix it up well too, you never get the feeling that they play to a pre-ordained schedule, or are in any hurry to get the night over and done with. Witness Johnny's solo spot on Ashtray. Not only was it fantastic, it also became a natural breathing spot in the performance, giving everyone a chance to wind down a bit. When the band went off before the encores (inevitable give the crowds reaction) I have to admit I thought they'd played an extremely short set. Then I realised I'd enjoyed myself so much I hadn't noticed the time at all. How often does that happen, eh?
Afterwards it was all grins and celebration from the band, Mr B waltzing off into the night with a bottle of bubbly.
I Am Kloot may be a band that are seen as "social misfits" by the rest of the music scene, especially in the UK, where to be a Bright Young Thing is all important; but I, for one, will raise a glass to that. I'll thank all that is holy, in fact. This outsider status has given them room to breathe. They have plugged away at what they do best, developing it into something special. If I were you, I'd catch them live now. They are a marvellous band, right at the top of their game.
Words : Richard Foster
Photographs : Damian Leslie