Live Review: Arcane Roots – Oslo, London – 22/05/2015

Looking back over the last three to four years, it’s hard to pinpoint any time where the Kingston trio of Arcane Roots have taken their feet off the accelerator. Through EP releases, festival dates, 2013’s debut album release and numerous headline and support tours that have all defied expectations, the three-piece have set their sights on 2015 being another landmark year. With another massive run of UK shows coming to an end with a London one-two, Andrew Groves & Co. are now staring down the launch of album number two on an ever-growing wave of momentum. With a chance to catch the first of the band’s two sets at the Oslo in Hackney, there was a rare chance to celebrate Arcane Roots’ early past as the trio got set to power their way into the future.

The order of the day was breakout EP ‘Left Fire’, which the three-piece would blaze through in full before a fan-voted set the next night. In tow were the duo of Gallery Circus, who all feedback seems to suggest have done a sublime job of standing out on lineups that also included Black Peaks, Sunset Sons and of course, Arcane Roots themselves. ‘Supercell’ unsurprisingly stands out, sounding as good as ever to create a pretty solid lead-in to the nonetheless explosive headline act.

With the night billed as a celebration of the seminal ‘Left Fire’, however, everyone is clearly waiting for ‘In This Town of Such Weather’ to burst into life. After a slightly extended version of the EP’s intro track, burst into life it does and the Oslo erupts. For a record that was released just three years ago, the riotous opening track leading into ‘You Are’ complete with the ‘Home’ interlude is already a serious burst of nostalgia. The EP playthrough also affords a now rare airing to the epic ‘Rouen’, a track that the fans in attendance have clearly missed since it fell out of the band’s regular setlists. Perhaps the biggest loss from the band’s live shows since ‘Blood and Chemistry’ released, it’s fantastic to hear once again, with all three band members taking to it as if they’ve played it at every single show.

There is some butting of heads between the more raucous fans with the venue’s security, and ‘Million Dollar Que$tion’ is nothing if not a catalyst to the chaos. The frontline quickly comes back under a reasonable level of control however, and elsewhere it’s exactly the atmosphere that have made Arcane Roots shows so memorable over the years, turning them into such a hot commodity along the way. Despite only appearing in interlude form on the original EP, standalone single ‘Habibty’ is dropped in full as another treat for the Oslo crowd, another track for which the tumultuous crowd has no end of love and respect. You couldn’t ask for much of a better crowd for a special set like this, tucked away at one of London’s most understated venues, and there is no better time to throw down some tracks from the fast-approaching Blood and Chemistry follow-up.

If you’ve managed to catch a single Arcane Root set this year, you’ll already be well aware that the new record is shaping up to be an absolute goliath. Few of the tracks aired so far sum this up quite as well as ‘Leaving’, which has fast become a show-stealing staple of the three-piece’s live shows. Alongside it is ‘Over and Over’, a song that has been in the band’s rotation for over a year now but being the as-yet-untitled record’s lead single, certainly still has a statement to make. In ‘If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves’, meanwhile, Groves & Co. have simply set out to smash crowds into motion with an even greater ferocity than usual. Alongside ‘Resolve’, the trifecta of new numbers are a barnstorming reminder that the future of Arcane Roots is already set to be just as bright – if not immeasurably more so – than their past.

Closing everything out is ‘Long & Low’, and if there is one thing that Arcane Roots have come to do even better than anything else, it’s close out a record. ‘You Keep Me Here’ has become known for the phenomenal finale it gives to ‘Blood and Chemistry’, but it’s ‘Long & Low’ that should have everyone champing at the bit to see how album number two wraps up. As the monstrous end to ‘Left Fire’, it proves to be just as massive of a conclusion in a live setting as well. There have been countless plaudits for Arcane Roots’ second Oslo show but night one could easily stand alone as a gig of the year contender. To restate the earlier remark, Arcane Roots are enjoying a magnificent wave of momentum that seemingly doesn’t have an end in sight. There’s no better time for the album to drop, and it’s starting to seem that Arcane Roots as British rock’s next big thing could be an even closer eventuality than ever before.


Words by Antony Lusmore (@VilinskiKonjic)

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