It turns out that Arcane Roots have played Glasgow on more than a few occasions prior to tonight. Whether that be on their own headline tour or as part of the support for other bands, but I can guarantee you one thing, they’ve never experienced a crowd as absorbed and passionate about the band they came to see on their previous visits.
I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew and Adam before the gig to discuss a few things like the current tour, the upcoming album and how the debuted songs were received by their more-than-modest following around the UK. That interview will be up on the site soon but until then let me tell you about the experience that was Arcane Roots live and loud in Glasgow.
Out strolls the band, Andrew looking dapper and resplendent in waistcoat and dinner jacket – the crowd are wondering how long it’ll be until they come off in the sweat and thunder refinements of King Tut’s – so much so that a chant along the lines of “taps aff Andrew” rings out. The towering Adam on bass takes up his slot stage-left and crash, straight into the first song of the night. The irony in the name of set opener ‘Slow’ isn’t lost on me. As the frantic intro rings out, a roar goes up and no sooner than it has dimmed Andrew approaches the mic to belt out the first lyrics of the night. It would seem that ‘Slow’ is far from indicative of the song itself or the night we have ahead of us.
The intricacies within the guitar parts on songs like ‘Slow’ and ‘Sacred Shapes’ merely underpin the talents of frontman Groves’ songwriting abilities. It’s not just that either, he can sing over the top of it all with lyrics that pack as much of a punch to the emotions as the riffs smack you in the face and ears. At the same time it all looks effortless. Arcane Roots have provided more than a few rare “wow” moments – between the crashing drums, and finger-tapping guitar technique on show.
Standing at the back of Tut’s, on the benches above the sound desk, there’s no escape from that bass. With Adam plying his trade with rhythmic intent, we are treated to not only the guttural reverb between our ears but also through the soles of our feet as the sound moves through the floorboards and into us from below. With the bass moving up through the legs and the shiver moving down the spine, they meet in an oddly satisfying crotch-crescendo.
Groves is a man happiest and most animated when standing at the front of a stage, guitar in hand, conducting the crowd that appear before him. That much is plain to see. however, the guy turns into an absolute beast when the riffs are flying. At one point during ‘Million Dollar Question’ he was practically hanging over the barrier and in among the crowd. That didn’t halt his playing and if Adam wasn’t covering vocal duties through the mic I honestly still think we’d have heard Andrew’s voice over the music and crowd he was now part of.
Watching these guys play live is an experience I would recommend you do if you’re able to. The way they energise a room and infect you with it is an art in itself so do yourself a massive favour and get these guys on your bucket list.
As if the place wasn’t already jumping – at one point to a new and improved version of the famous Glasgow “here we…” which went something like “Arcane, Arcane, Arcane fucking Roots” – Groves decides to provide a fairly indulgent solo which provides a segue to the frantically exciting ‘Resolve’. A song that challenges the vocal range of Groves as well as providing a moment or two post-chorus to go absolutely, fucking batshit crazy. I must admit, before the gig I didn’t anticipate moshpits breaking out, how wrong was I?
Of the eleven tracks in the set, three are being played in Glasgow for the first time. ‘Leaving’ is an upbeat, poppy track in comparison to those before it. With a jumpy, bouncy, boppy feel throughout, it’s no surprise that it’s becoming a fans’ favourite on the tour. ‘When Did the Taste Leave Your Mouth’ and ‘If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves’ have more of a traditional Arcane Rootsy feel to them, the latter being packed full of riffs – announces Groves before piling into it and sending the crowd into another frenzy.
Closing the set with ‘You Are’ is a masterstroke. Groves is able to take a step back from the mic at times and let the crowd sing for him. I still get a tingle when I think back to just how involved and engaged the crowd was throughout the gig and that’s not down to those in attendance, that’s down to the fact that Arcane Roots are an awesome band with great songs which translate so well to a live setting.
As I left the venue I answered a question I’d heard within the opening track. When Arcane Roots return to Glasgow I’ll be there and when I hear Andrew’s voice I will remember it. It will make my heart irregulate and render it speechless. In much the same way as I felt when I was heading home absolutely shattered in the best possible way from one of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Arcane Roots, I love you!