Despite being a well oiled machine, State is also prone to bursts of spontaneity. It was a balmy night in the German capital when a quick glance at the listings revealed a gig by Manchester’s I Am Kloot, mere hours away. Footloose and fancy-free we S-bahned it over to Kreuzberg and the fantastic Lido venue for the first time. The last time we saw I Am Kloot was as support to Goldfrapp in London’s Somerset House and in the bright evening their sit-down performance was a bit lost. We had drifted away from the band for the few years since and were delighted to find two of their great albums on the iPod to while away the hours before the gig.
The Lido is a perfect venue to see a band like this, the relatively intimate room is packed with the local I Am Kloot faithful, while there’s also a large chill area in another section with a bar, smoking area and all. None of it is too polished but it makes the small things like getting a beer and chatting to your mates pre-gig all very easy and pleasant.
Arriving on stage with glasses of Guinness, the band toast the crowd and receive a warm, heroes’-return welcome. It’s clear that some of what these three guys play has stayed with fans through the band’s record company woes and relatively minor recent releases. Despite a mostly seated performance I Am Kloot deliver a punch right from the start, cherry-picking from an arsenal of 10 years of powerful and memorable songs.
Much like Liverpool’s Shack they write with one eye on an English folk angle, probably more obvious because of John Bramwell’s extensive use of the acoustic guitar. But yet while you see three guys sitting down on stage, you get these songs which are pocket epics. Straight into -Favourite Sky’ and you can feel the room shrinking and pulling us all in. We are treated to a number of new songs from the forthcoming -The Sky At Night’ album and they sound as good as ever, with John acknowledging the cheer before they play the new -Northern Skies’ by saying ‘thank you for being so optimistic’.
As we roll through the evening all these songs we never knew we knew the words to are delivered like gifts – -Sold As Seen’, and then -Morning Rain’ which sounds massive compared with the relatively pastoral sound the song had on the first album. It’s a hot room and across the crowd jumpers are coming off. By the time we get to -Storm Warning’ all the guys are swaying and girls are starting to dance and sing along – an almost perfect moment when a song we’d forgotten about is reborn on one of the first warm spring evenings.
After three solo songs by John (he claims the band brought this in when the smoking ban began) he pauses to tell us that when the band were just beginning, the idea of playing a gig in Berlin – of all places – was so exotic to them and now here they were. Here’s a glimpse of a band so happy with their lot and it’s a touching moment, far away from any bravado or swagger.
The electric guitar is called upon for a ripping -Cuckoo’ (‘phew, that was intense’) and we finish with yet another drinking song, and maybe their best, -Proof’, and it caps a beautiful night of getting to know I Am Kloot again – and what better city for a reunification.
Photographs by Nicole Richwald.