Amber Arcades by Nick Helderman

Amber Arcades by Nick Helderman


“We don’t really celebrate Halloween in the Netherlands, but tonight we’ve come as people dressed in glitter,” states Utrecht’s Annelotte De Graaf  aka Amber Arcades, clearly misunderstanding the dress code. Glitter though is a good representation of the dream pop made by Amber Arcades, which, while feather light, manages to achieve a devastating amount of directness that carves out a separate place for them amongst their peers.

The afore mentioned directness is clear on the aptly-titled ‘Right Now.’ Here, the pounding drums combine perfectly with Annelotte’s whirring vocal as feet tap for the first time on the weathered concrete of the Soup Kitchen basement. ‘I will follow’ demonstrates Amber Arcades’ aptitude for some fantastic tension building; starting the song with soothing guitar before power pop drums transform the song into a different animal, forcing the audience to sway and frolic along with our glitter-covered friends.

‘This Time’ is tonight’s most meditative song, as the fuzz of the guitars makes it easy for us to lose ourselves within the song’s texture, making us unwilling to pull ourselves out as the song reaches its close. Amber Arcades then up-the-ante with the brilliant ‘Fading Lines’, an outstanding pop number that prompts audience and band alike to dance for the first time, as we feel a sense of loose abandon uncommon for a Sunday evening. ‘Come With Me’ then manages to keep the pace up and deprives me of the chance to escape for a much-needed toilet break.

With her voice echoing the Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Frazer at times, Annelotte moves onto the best song of the night, ‘Constant’s Dream’. A song with many sides to it, it coasts at times and floors at others, with Annelotte delivering the line ‘If it was just for me, I’d want it all the same’ in its most potent moment.

As with most Amber Arcades performances, tonight closes with ‘Turning Light,’ a near seven minute centrepiece that showcases the underestimated power of the rhythm guitar. It’s a fervent closer which sees one last pump of adrenaline make it’s way around the Soup Kitchen basement, before we dance off into the night, with thoughts of the following Monday morning far away. Tonight is part of Amber Arcades first UK tour, but with such energy and such an eye for a song it won’t be long until Annelotte and co arrive on our shores again.

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.