Arcane Roots and Bryde – 22nd October 2018 – Newcastle Think Tank

By Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)

By the time you read this Arcane Roots are no more. On Monday 22nd October they played the penultimate night of their ‘farewell tour’ at Newcastle’s Think Tank before parting ways and moving onto separate ‘long-term projects.’

I felt a bit of a fraud. This was my first time seeing them. Many had gathered as they have followed them a lot longer than myself some even from day one, including local band Boy Jumps Ship, who were in attendance for this last hurrah. The anticipation was high with the venue being fairly packed before support act Bryde came on. Nobody wanted to miss a single moment of this night.

Bryde, AKA Sarah Howells, quietly stepped onto the stage as audience members were in deep conversations but as soon as she said ‘hello’ the room fell with a magical silence as she opened her set with Wouldn’t That Make You Feel Good. I have seen Bryde a number of times over the past few years. The first time I saw her she played solo. It was just her and an electric guitar. The other times following she was backed by a drummer and bassist/synth player. But on this tour it was like that first time and I am unsure if it was because this was the farewell tour for Arcane Roots or it was just the presence of Bryde and her music that had the crowd under a spell. There was no sound except claps of approval after each song in this strong half-hour set running through songs from her Welsh Music Prize nominated album of the year, Like An Island, and new song On The Subject Of Breathing. If Arcane Roots were not advertised as the headliner you could have been mistaken that this was Bryde’s headline gig.

The room became tighter and lights went out as smoke filled the stage for the trio Arcane Roots. The intensity of the room became, well, more intense as the echo of the guitar and keyboards filled the room to a dully red-lit stage. The haunting vocals of Andrew Groves immediately captured our breath, then the stage lights up between the smoke making the two other bandmates Adam Burton and Jack Wrench visible as well as  long-term friend and guest vocalist Emily Denton, as they open with the more electro-fused version of Before Me (Over) from the specially released Landslide EP with Matter (Revel) following straight after.

Long-term fans (and critics) held their last album Melancholia Hymns to mixed reviews with some believing the absence of heavy riffs took away what Arcane Roots became known for but if you were to witness this tour, this sound could not have been more perfect. The vocals of Groves are spellbinding. The instruments (bass, synths, drums, keys, acoustic guitar) and the dark smokey setting made the night feel ‘otherworldly.’ The room was packed but it was like your soul was in a dream-scape and you were alone. I have visited Think Tank on numerous occasions. On those occasions, you could be annoyed hearing someone near you talk or even the cash register and glasses clink due to the intimacy of the room but this night with these musicians these noises felt absent. Nobody dared spoil this moment.

Bryde is welcomed back to the stage for Indigo as Groves introduces her as, “Pissing all over them,” using the term very loosely to describe her opening support slot as a great introduction to their set. Emily Denton also rejoins for Rouen from their 2012 album Left Fire, which originally is a lot heavier than we witness on this night. This version with Emily on vocals is hypnotic that it makes you wonder if you really want to go really want to go back to the original version. Other notable heavier songs are Solemn and Belief but this tour was bringing them in a stripped back form which was perfect to how the Landslide tour was being delivered. It was also perfect as it allowed for more a connection with their fans, as Groves points out, they normally ‘have the plastics things stuck in their ears.’ So this more intimate setting allowed them to be closer to their fans. We were also treated to Winters Wept which is a song that has been ‘made up of songs littered in the spaces between song(s)’ from the Blood & Chemistry days. This tour would be the first time the song would get its live outing.

The Landslide tour was definitely the perfect way for Arcane Roots closing this chapter of their musical life on a high.

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Images Copyright Victoria Wai. For permission to use these images please contact victoriawai.co.uk


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