Arcane Roots / Me @ Night & Day, Manchester 16.07.12

Playing a gig on a rainy weekday night is always a tough call, particularly for a couple of up and coming bands who have yet to establish anything more than a word-of-mouth fanbase, but you wouldn't know it from watching tonight’s show. Both bands give it the full treatment and the small, damp, but loyal audience present at the thankfully - cosy Night & Day lap it up.

Jul 16th, 2012 at Night & Day, Manchester / By Paul Robertson
Arcane Roots First up tonight were relocated Australian quartet Me, playing songs from their current EP Another Story High and their soon-to-be-released debut LP. Me fizzed with energy and verve, pumping out a series of songs that covered the ground between Muse, Queen, Sparks, Silvery and the Cardiacs, liberally sprinkled with pop dust. Luke Ferris' vocals swooped and soared, sounding for all the world like a hybrid of Matt Bellamy, Thom Yorke and Rufus Wainwright at his most operatic, as he careened between singing, playing guitar and playing the keyboard but never missing a beat. Expect to hear big things from Me in the not-too-distant future, as their big, sophisticated sound is perfectly suited to bigger venues and audiences. Hell, tonight's headliners were given a very difficult task in taking to the stage after Me.

Of course, taking to a stage lit with strategically-placed pink neon lighting tubes, Arcane Roots were never going to let anyone steal the show so easily, not when they were so clearly fired-up and energised from the get-go. Guitarist/vocalist Andrew Groves croons quietly and sweetly, gently strumming and plucking out a melody for all of a minute before all hell breaks loose and the band lurch into the first of a set-long series of spastic, jagged riffs and inhuman time changes.

The first couple of tracks fly past in a blur of frenzied guitar-neck tapping, bloodcurdling screams, soulful singing, flailing legs and sprayed-on-skinny-black-jeans from Groves, stick-splintering percussive wrath from bestriped drummer Daryl Atkins and grimacing, lunging power-moves from glowering bassist Adam Burton.

Arcane Roots have taken the angular technicality of math-rock and welded it to fiery hardcore attitude using the glue of being able to write a bloody good tune, they do it effortlessly and, if tonight is anything to go by, faultlessly.

Vocally, Groves takes the range of Glassjaw's Daryl Palumbo and stretches it even further, plumbing bestial depths but also soaring powerfully and sweetly, and tonight he is on top form. Ripping through tracks mostly taken from their Left Fire record, with a brand new track thrown in to sweeten the deal, the trio go full-throttle for the entire set, delivering searing and touching versions of tracks like ‘Rouen’, ‘Million Dollar Que$tion’ and ‘Home’ before closing with the gentler, introspective ‘Habibty’ having visibly given their all.

Between the two bands, Me and Arcane Roots managed the near-impossible task of bringing a bit of sunshine to a dreary rainy night in Manchester, and both easily succeeded in making us pay full attention to what was going on onstage. Two very different, but uniformly excellent performances from two up-and-coming bands that warrant much more attention next time they pass through your town.