I Am Kloot, Crawdaddy Stage
Quite an early start for the notoriously heavy-drinking I Am Kloot and John Bramwell does confirm to us that he did have a big night. We get a long, orchestral introduction and then sweep into the most recent album’s opener, ‘Northern Skies’, just tender enough for the aching heads and lively enough to stop us falling asleep. The three-piece have been upped to six for the show and this means we get some live brass and a big sound, which is just as well as the thumping sound from the Electric Arena nearby is encroaching. There are some constant tuning issues (both real and imaginary) and something is sadly distracting about the show. With a fast 45 minutes to fit everything in, gaps between songs can be detrimental to the mood and with the outside noise creeping in it wasn’t conducive to losing yourself in Bramwell’s superb songwriting. Some of the bigger songs which might have filled the tent more (‘Cuckoo’ perhaps) were left out of the set and quieter, though hangover-friendly songs such as ‘To The Brink’ sounded great but just didn’t have that tractor-beam draw. At their best this band are a genius drunk leaning on your shoulder at 3am telling you truths about your life. Maybe 3pm is just not their natural habitat.
John Grant, Cosby Stage
Though he was up against James Blake on the main stage, Grant had the Cosby tent not just reasonably packed but in singalong mood, his acerbic and memorable turn of phrase going down extremely well. It was also very obvious that he was loving this attentive audience and if it were possible to raise his game from previous live shows he seemed to. His performance showed that Grant is someone who knows that a festival crowd are much harder to hold in the palm of your hand than at your own gig, but that’s where he had them. Though a sparse stage set-up, his booming voice and purposeful piano hold attention firmly on his songs of torment (and the one happy one about outer space). You won’t close a gig better than with ‘Queen of Denmark’, with its punching pace and peaking moments at the point where he holds a long, loud note the audience are in a constant state of cheering and Grant is blowing us kisses. Spine-shivering perfection.
OMD, Electric Arena
Fourteen golden pop songs in a row from Wirral’s finest was the deal from the off so the dad-dancing from 52 year-old Andy McCluskey cold be forgiven somewhat. There were no real pretensions about the music and the singer took pains to tell us that he was too old to give a shit about such trivialities (and about his own dancing). The crowd were adoring and the crystal clear sound had most of us remembering the odd GAA hall disco or similar. Live, the songs are sharper and punchier than the ’80s production on the original recordings and every kid with a synth should be taking notes from ‘Enola Gay’. On the day, OMD delivered way more than was expected and stuck a big smile on the face of everyone by the time we reached ‘Electricity’ (cue a mass of air-keyboard-playing).
Photo: Valerio Berdini