I Am Kloot
Preston 53 Degrees
8th November 2012
Kloot have chosen to unveil their new album Let It All In, due in January, with a series of low-key gigs, starting with last night's show at Preston's 53 Degrees.
It's been over two years since their Mercury-nominated Sky At Night album, and the only new material heard is the opening single Hold Back The Night, a couple of previews at their 2011 shows and at John Bramwell's increasingly rare solo outings.
Tonight we hear eight of the songs from the album, but not fan favourite Even The Stars which has finally made it to record. What's clear from the start is that the new material stands up against their previous albums and has the potential to take them the next step (commercially).
Highlights are the Beatles-esque Some Better Day and These Days Are Mine, which show a more melodic side to Kloot that hasn't come out in previous albums. The songs, as ever, speak of lost love, drinking and disaster, and the Preston crowd are respectfully enthralled by them.
There's moments of understated beauty, reminiscent of Sky At Night, in tracks such as Shoeless and Masquerade, but also a heavier edge to Bullets and Mouth On Me that hark back to their earlier work.
Lead single Hold Back The Night comes alive compared to the recorded version and ends with seven on stage.
It's not just about the new material tonight though. The rest of the set is mainly drawn from their debut Natural History and Sky At Night, their two most recognisible albums to date. Classics such as Twist, To You and Because get a fantastic reception from the crowd, and the highlights of Sky At Night (Northern Skies, I Still Do and To The Brink) are retained in the set as well.
There feels like there's a new sense of professionalism about Kloot tonight too, or maybe that's the fear of the new songs showing through. There's lots of nervous glances, particularly between John and Pete (Jobson) between songs, looking for confirmation that it's going well.
Fortunately, this doesn't take anything out of the charm and innocence of John as a frontman. He jokes about his height, he engages the crowd with his tales of drinking and disaster, shrugging off hecklers, joking that guitar tuning is part of the new songs. Pete, as ever, remains seated for the whole show, whilst Andy looks lost in a world of his own on drums, pausing only between songs to grin at the other two.
The band are accompanied by additional guitar, keyboards, violin and various bits of brass, varying from a two-piece for I Still Do to a seven-piece for the more complex involved and louder songs.
Whether Let It All In elevates Kloot to the levels of contemporaries such as Richard Hawley or even on the path to Elbow commercially remains to be seen. What can't be doubted is that the new material stands up against everything they've done before, without simply repeating the same formula.
Live, they're still unmissable, pulling you in to the emotional maelstrom of their songs.