Live Review: So Below - Shacklewell Arms - London, 07/03/2017



Arriving at The Shacklewell Arms, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was just your average mid-week boozer. Situated slightly off the beaten track, it plays host to a number of up and coming artists, and this is where So Below concludes her 6-date tour of the UK.

So Below (A.K.A Madeline North) released her self-titled debut EP in 2016, and her most recent single ‘Hard’ is a dark and compelling track that fits perfectly with the self-proclaimed “goth-pop” vibe that continues throughout the EP.

I arrived at the venue to find that there was no support act; therefore the room was only half full when the set began. When they entering the stage, it was clear that the visual aesthetic of So Below is clear-cut grunge. Leather jackets, black boots, black jeans, the lot. Yet when Madeline opened the set with ‘Sleep’, her voice was the opposite of grunge: soft and delicate, but with a lasting impression. Everyone in the room immediately began to bob along to the synth beats that are reminiscent of electro-pop acts such as CHVRCHES, with a slight hint of Jessie Ware within her ethereal vocals. Mid way through the set So Below also played her upcoming release ‘Close’, which was well received by the crowd. Lyrically, the words are moody and reflective, which compliment the dark synth-pop qualities that are patterned within her songs.

Whilst I couldn’t fault the set list, the general stage presence of So Below was underwhelming. Aside from the actual music, creating the elusive “live experience” is crucial. However, the lighting was too bright, and the set was static and lacked energy. It could be that the venue was not suited to her style, although this was the final gig of her UK tour, and I expected more energy and engagement with the audience.

Words by Charlotte Aisling

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