Sunday 18 December 2011 at 7:30pm
Royal Exchange Theatre
Saint Ann's Square, Manchester, M2 7DH, United Kingdom
For the second in a new series of Sunday night concerts at the historic Royal Exchange, Hey! Manchester and Edge Street Live welcome Thea Gilmore and I Am Kloot’s John Bramwell.
Tickets are available directly from the Royal Exchange box office (no booking fee for cash payment), Royalexchange.co.uk and on 0161 833 9833. They will also be available shortly from Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange (both on Oldham Street), Ticketline.co.uk and Seetickets.com
I Am Kloot frontman John Bramwell was born in 1964 in Warrington and grew up near Hyde. In the early years, he was the front man of a four-piece band called The Ignition who toured in the 1980s. Following that he became a solo performer and Granada Television Presenter Johnny Dangerously, introducing Fresh, a Saturday morning magazine programme that included one of the first TV appearances for KFM Radio personality Caroline Aherne in her Mrs Merton role. In this guise he also released his first recordings, You, Me and the Alarm Clock, named in the Guardian as ‘one of the greatest albums you’ve never heard’.
Around this time John was described in the book God Created Manchester as ‘the real contender’. However, a stint out of the music business followed, followed by the formation of The Mouth, with the late Manchester singer Bryan Glancy. The group toured the UK and US throughout the mid-1990s. In 1999, John formed I Am Kloot. The band released their debut album, Natural History, in March 2001 on the Wall of Sound offshoot We Love You, followed by an eponymous album in September 2003, on the Echo imprint.
Gods and Monsters appeared to great acclaim in 2005, followed by I Am Kloot play Moolah Rouge and B, a collection b-sides and rarities. In 2010 Kloot struck gold when Sky At Night, their fifth album proper, entered the album charts at 24 and promptly received a prestigious Mercury Music Prize nomination. A sold-out UK tour followed including a rapturously received homecoming gig at Manchester Cathedral.
Oxford-born singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore made her debut album at 18 and has since blazed a fiercely independent path whilst racking up sales, acclaim and admiration from peers such as Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez and Martha Wainwright to name but a few.
Her new album, Strange Communion, is a Christmas album – but it’s not your average fake-snow-and-sleigh-bells affair: it name-checks Jona Lewie and Julie Andrews, references the poetry of T S Eliot and Louis MacNiece, includes cover versions of obscure songs by Elvis Costello and Yoko Ono, and opens with an invocation to a pagan sun God.
From the choral splendour of Sol Invictus her collaboration with the award-winning Liverpool-based Sense Of Sound choir, to surely the most unlikely and riotous duet of the year – with Radio 2′s Mark Radcliffe – to the ethereal beauty of Mid Winter Toast and December In New York the album is shot through with Thea’s crystalline voice and famously dazzling lyrics. And in the single, That’ll Be Christmas, it contains the catchiest, wittiest song about the festive season in many a long year.
For this special event, both John and Thea will perform a set of their own material, as well as playing together. The Northern Quarter Boys Choir will add a further festive twist to the evening by opening with choral versions of a selection of Christmas hits.
The Royal Exchange Theatre has existed in one form or another since 1792, including at its current site in St Ann’s Square. The building was seriously damaged during World War II when it took a direct hit from a bomb during a German air raid at Christmas, 1940. The interior was subsequently rebuilt but trading ceased in 1968, and the building was threatened with demolition. It remained empty until 1973 when it was used to temporarily house a theatre company. The Royal Exchange Theatre was founded in 1976, and formally opened by Sir Laurence Olivier.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Royal Exchange Theatre, which seats upwards of 700 people in the round across three tiers, welcomed the likes of John Martyn, Fairport Convention, Loudon Wainwright III, Cowboy Junkies, the Durutti Column, Penguin Cafe and Christy Moore among others. The building was later damaged on 15 June 1996 when the IRA bomb exploded less than 50 yards away in nearby Corporation Street. Repairs took over two years and cost £32m, but the theatre was named ‘Theatre of the Year’ in 1999 and continues to thrive.
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