Gig Review: Arcane Roots @ O2 Institute2, Birmingham

photos + words by oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

Way back when, I concluded that Arcane Roots MUST be ugly. Their November show saw them play under the cover of fog & darkness, which really added to their heavy, ethereal sound; however, for their latest tour in support of nearly-new record Melancholia Hymns, the Arcane light show went to the next level and my, oh my, they are some beautiful boys with some beautiful beats.

Taking to the stage in Birmingham’s O2 Institute2, a lovely little basement venue, support from Hyena Kill and Grumblebee were thorougly welcome to whet the appetite of the crowd, serving up hor d’oeuvres of heavy riffs. What’s more, the bass player for Grumblebee looked like a world-class Serie A midfielder; what more do you need? Check them two out – the looks are good but the music is better. It’s actually very rare I enjoy all bands on the billing, so credit to all that took to the stage last night.

Tuesday night’s main event, however, blew everyone and everything out of the water, starting off with Off the Floor, then flying into the riff-tacular Matter. I really enjoy Andrew’s vocals, especially on Melancholia Hymns. It feels like it’s got an Eastern influence in parts. I might be wrong. I don’t know. It’s only because I do this for free I still have a job.

Some things in music are consistent; there will always be fresh & new musical ideas from every genre, and every rock band will have a Spinal Tap moment. Arcane Roots’ was that their magical light show was drinking so much power, the lights went a bit funny. Whilst that was being sorted, we were treated to an impromptu audience with Adam Burton entertaining the crowd, and I mean entertaining. It was a good laugh and a good vibe all night. I perched against one of the pillars towards the back and watched it happen. The crowd were having a great time, so were the band. It was great.

Speaking of fresh & new musical ideas, we were treated to a brand new track called Landslide. It’s really very good, nice riff, the best bit being a big, big scream from your man Andrew from out of nowhere. He said that it’ll be out soon, with “something and another something”. Is that something an EP? Is it another tour? Is it a tasty pizza? Watch this space, sports fans.

The setlist was a real mixed bag, but the sort of mixed bag that is a tasty pick & mix. It was good to see Triptych & Arp on the setlist. On the other hand, it was slightly disappointing to get only an abridged version of Before Me, but understandable considering the length of the song. It worked really well as an opening track, but I don’t write the setlist – I just write about them.

A huge rendition of If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves was the perfect crescendo to the set, with Half the World sending fans home happy, satisfied and rocked out. It was another lightning set from the Londoners, but left me wanting more. Imagine the show they’d put on in a larger venue with a bigger lighting budget. It’d be the best gig in the world! For now, though, an entertaining evening in a Brummie basement is more than enough to put a smile on your face.

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Oliver Butler

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