Amber Arcades @ Brudenell, 17/10/16

In today’s melting-pot music industry it’s not uncommon to come across a band whose sound is hard to pin down. This is certainly the case with Amber Arcades, whose futuristic, fantasy-esque name reflects their eclectic, shoegaze-inspired mix of strong electronic melodies, dreamy guitar, and beautifully echoing vocals.

Since releasing debut album Fading Lines earlier this year, vocalist and guitarist Annelotte de Graff has been pursuing a packed touring schedule, taking her and her band across Europe and the United States. It was on the second night of the UK leg of the tour that they played the iconic yet humble Brudenell Social Club.

Local punk trio Drahla opened the gig, followed by Swiss-Dutch musician Ella van der Woude, both of which I think deserve special mention. Ella’s gentle, acoustic style was one I was immediately familiar with and led perfectly into Amber Arcades’ first song, but it was Drahla I found myself unusually drawn to. I especially enjoyed their recently released track ‘Fictional Decision’, despite it being a complete departure from my usual tastes – that’s live music for you.

The headliners took to the stage and opened with the melancholic ‘White Fuzz’ before launching straight into the gorgeously twangy rhythms of ‘Right Now’, a song guaranteed to get the crowd moving. What followed was a bumper 12-track set which covered the entirety of the debut album and even a cover for Nick Drake’s ‘Which Will’, re-imagined in Amber Arcades’ iconic style.

I did think that there were points where the softer vocals were drowned by the backing guitar but fortunately this was only an issue in one or two of the earlier tracks and didn’t stop me enjoying the set as a whole. I was impressed how well the band’s unique sound and de Graff’s forlorn vocals were reproduced in a live setting. For me, standout tracks were ‘Fading Lines’, perhaps Amber Arcades’ most recognisable and defining song, and the wistful, almost acoustic ‘Constant’s Dream’.

Altogether the gig had a very low-key and friendly vibe, with the band joining the audience to watch the support acts, and sharing anecdotes of the road between tracks. De Graff very much took centre stage (it’s hard not to do when you’re wearing a bright orange roll-neck) but that’s not to say that the playing of the rest of the band wasn’t excellent too.

If you’ve missed them so far, there’s still chance to catch Amber Arcades whilst they’re in the UK, with dates nearby in Sheffield and Manchester near the end of the month.

Conor Kavanagh

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