Arcane Roots at Sugarmill in Stoke, UK: Event Review

This show was the final date of Arcane RootsUK tour and my first experience seeing the band live. The three-piece from Kingston Upon Thames in London have built a reputation for being an excellent live act in recent years; an accolade that I can now personally attest. Musically, Arcane Roots sound similar to the early works of two other esteemed UK live acts: Biffy Clyro and Muse, but with more technical instrumentation and complex song structures.

For a three-piece, they command the stage very well. Bassist Adam Burton was permanently animated throughout the set and guitarist/vocalist Andrew Groves was keen to spend any moments that didn’t require the use of a microphone, savouring the instrumental moments of the band’s music at the centre of the stage. Groves is an impressive front-man, seamlessly delivering pitch-perfect vocals while performing intricate, rhythmically challenging compositions on the guitar; both of which as polished as they are on record. Drummer Daryl Atkins kept the band locked tightly together, guiding the instrumentation through dynamic changes and tempo variations that kept the energy high throughout the set.

Songs from the band’s most recent album Blood & Chemistry were prevalent, although choice favourites from the debut mini-album Left Fire were also given an outing. In addition, the band unveiled some new material that they’ve been working on for a new record, which came across as a continuation of the sound they perfected on Blood & Chemistry. The material fit nicely with the rest of the set and definitely got me excited for future music.

Although the band’s display was impressive, unfortunately, the sound quality in the venue was poor. I had to strain to hear the vocals as they were often lost in the mix, which was particularly disappointing since Groves’ tone and delivery is a core aspect of the band’s sound. On some of the more subdued songs such as the 2013 single “Belief,” the vocals came across perfectly and were flawlessly executed; it was a shame that when the musicians turned up the volume, the sound system couldn’t cope in the same way.

Towards the end of the set Groves offered thanks to the crowd, showing his appreciation for those who had made the trip to the venue to watch the show. This is a fairly common routine for bands on tour, but often it feels disingenuous and scripted, however Groves appeared genuinely humbled and thankful for the support. It was a moment that united the audience in admiration for the band, one that was worthy of more eyes than the modest crowd that had amassed for the show. Arcane Roots are a band that should be commanding a larger crowd, something that hopefully their next album will afford them. Although their music is less accessible than the aforementioned Biffy Clyro and Muse due to more technically complex music, each song is full of hooks, riffs and powerful choruses that gives Arcane Roots the perfect ammunition to please a more mainstream crowd. With a little more exposure, I’d hope to be rubbing shoulders with a lot more people next time I see the band live.