Live Review: Arcane Roots - Strongrooms, London - 16/09/2017
Despite the gloom of London’s grey, cloudy skies, the atmosphere of the crowd on this drizzly afternoon is brimming with upbeat energy. There’s a static buzz of excitement in the intimate space of the Strongroom Bar, and everyone knows why - they are about to be treated to a special acoustic set by none other than Arcane Roots.
Despite only being released the day before, the band’s latest record, 'Melancholia Hymns', is already receiving a wave of positive reviews from both press and peers alike. Today’s proceedings kick off with the opening track ‘Before Me’ and the room swells with atmospheric, soaring synths, accompanied by Andrew Groves’ distinct vocals – A vibe reminiscent of bands such as Sigur Rós.
All three members are noticeably excited to be here, revelling in the crowd’s immediate interaction with the new material as if it’s been a part of their set for years. ‘Off the Floor’ sounds just as fantastic in an acoustic setting, despite being one of the heavier tracks on the record. The band pull the transition to acoustic off in perfect fashion, before delighting the crowd with ‘Leaving’, taken from the 2015 EP ‘Heaven & Earth’.
Groves once again astounds with his raw and passionate vocals, which capture the complete attention every person in the room. The moody electric sound of ‘Curtains’ is haunting and enigmatic in equal measure, but at three minutes in it all changes. As Groves sings the words “and I hear your calls, but they sound the same” the song becomes an epic instrumental piece, with a riff that no one would be able to resist banging their head to. Incredibly, Arcane Roots make this work even on a minimal setting. I only hope that one day they play a show with a full orchestra backing so the full potential of this song can be realised.
Unfortunately, the band announce they are playing their final song of the day, 'Indigo'. This receives a humongous cheer – today’s attendees have clearly been playing Melancholia Hymns on repeat since yesterday morning (just like me!) - Indigo is a clear favourite. In fairness, it’s a hard opinion to dispute, with the repeated lyric “just say the word and I’ll go, if that’s what you’re saying” sinking in to the heads and hearts of anyone that hears it. The lyrics on this track and throughout the rest of the album are soaked in heartfelt feeling and emotion, something that contrasts so well with both the softer and heavier sounds of Arcane Roots.
Arcane Roots are one of those bands that you can’t help but love – They’re talented, versatile and quite simply just incredible. But more than this, they are a trio of humble, friendly people that truly appreciate each individual who has taken the time to listen to them.
Photography by Lauren Kelly Brown
Check out Melancholia Hymns, out now - and catch the band as they tour across the UK throughout October!