LIVE: Arcane Roots / Bryde / Emily Denton @ Hoxton Hall, London

By Dave Stewart

There isn’t anything that feels quite as bittersweet as seeing a band on tour for the final time. First, there’s the air of exclusivity that runs through the evening. An unmistakable feeling that you’re among a select few, witnessing something for the last time. There’s the joy of the performance itself, getting lost in the music and absorbing every last drop of it. And then, when the evening ends, a sense of pure sadness. The realisation that you won’t ever get to see that band and those songs performed live again. The weight of that sadness becomes heavier when the band is flawless, when the band treats you to an awe-inspiring night of celebration. That is exactly what Arcane Roots provided for the attendees of their Hoxton Hall show – an intimate and emotional farewell to a stunning band.

First act Emily Denton, a close friend of the band, nervously performed a beautiful set. Armed with an acoustic guitar and a keyboard, she led the room through five delicate tracks, rendering the crowd completely silent. A natural performer she might not be, but a natural talent she is.

Second act Bryde – singer-songwriter Sarah Howells – had a similar effect on the audience. Possessing swagger and confidence in troves, she had complete command over everyone in earshot. The music drew a lot of similarities to Arcane Roots; dark and brooding in places, but well balanced with light and melodic passages. Both acts acted as the perfect warm-up for the main event, and what a main event it was.

Arcane Roots crept onto a smoke filled stage and opened with ‘Before Me (Over)’, the first track from their most recent EP ‘Landslide’. A re-imagining of the original version from their 2017 album ‘Melancholia Hymns’, this first track would set the vibe for the rest of the set. An electronic, stripped back and emotive tribute to the bands career. The perfect goodbye.

Hoxton Hall was completely silent during every single song, the crowd hanging on every word that left lead vocalist Andrew Groves’ mouth. From reworked versions of ‘Fireflies’ and ‘Indigo’, to rarely performed songs like ‘Winters Wept’, it was impossible for them to put a foot wrong. Every note was precise and perfect, every beat was tight and locked in. There was nothing to point flaws at. The simple light show that they brought with them heightened the performance, too, almost acting as a fourth member of the band. Neon lights, floodlights and delicate spotlights were all used throughout, adding another level of depth to the music.

The set contained material that spanned the bands entire career, with songs like the very recent ‘Landslide’ sitting alongside older numbers like crowd favourite ‘Belief’ from 2013. The latter sparked a mass singalong, with audience members delicately but heartily placing their voices underneath Groves’ powerful and emotive tones. The highlight of the set was a mesmerising version of ‘Rouen’, with vocal help from opener Emily Denton. Her voice was beautiful and sat on top of the music like it belonged, causing goosebumps to flood through the audience as they looked on in awe – if the music came to a sudden stop, you would have heard a pin drop. They ended the night with a performance of ‘Off The Floor (Fade)’, a powerful electronic crescendo that faded into silence and left a few attendees in tears. The end of an era.

Arcane Roots gave London an intense, powerful and moving night, leaving the audience both satisfied and saddened. A band at the top of their game, bowing out way too soon. If they decide to return further down the line, they will be welcomed back with open arms; if not, though, these last few shows have served as a fitting tribute to a phenomenal band.

Farewell, Arcane Roots. You will be missed.