Amber Arcades, Hater, THALA
Amber Arcades, Hater, Thala @ The Tin At The Coal Vaults, Coventry, UK, 2nd February, 2023,
Feb 11, 2023
Photography by Ian Weston
Having started in 2011 as a seven-day celebration of independent venues and the people that run them, Independent Venue Week has grown over the past decade to become one of the most important series of events on the UK live circuit. Traditionally taking place at the end of January – a month that can probably be best described as “dry” as far as live music shows are concerned. Independent Venue Week now features over 200 participating venues from around the UK, its importance undoubtedly magnified by the impact of Covid-19 which saw many live music spaces close their doors and never reopen due to the financial constraints of being unable to operate throughout the pandemic. So this week’s series of shows up and down the land will hopefully spark a resurgence in attendance at smaller – pardon the pun – under the radar shows.
This evening’s participating venue is The Tin At The Coal Vaults, an intimate space on the Canal Basin of Coventry. As well as putting on live events, The Tin also doubles up as a rehearsal space and community hub for the city’s thriving arts and music scene, so its importance to Coventry’s wider creative circle cannot be underestimated. So, with a mouthwatering bill showcasing the very best of Fire Records’ roster and programmed by Coventry’s very own Jenna Jones from the label, its heartwarming to see the venue packed to the rafters.
First on is Berlin-based singer/songwriter Thala. Touring the UK for the very first time, Thala’s music perfectly fits the mood for such a setting as The Tin. Playing with guitarist Joel Marten on this tour, tonight provides an opportunity for Thala to showcase new material from her forthcoming EP that immediately draws comparisons with Juliana Hatfield or Soccer Mommy. Fusing wistful melodies with dreamy textures, Thala has been on a continuous journey of reinvention since releasing her first single nearly four years ago, and judging by this evening’s performance that looks set to carry on for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, Malmo’s Hater just get better and better with every passing show. Essentially the brainchild of Caroline Landahl and Måns Leonartsson, tonight’s line-up also features FEWS drummer Rasmus Andersson behind the kit as he has been known to do fairly regularly in recent months. Playing a set that’s equally comprised of songs from all three long players alongside breakthrough singles “Radius” and “Blushing”, Hater are a joy to behold. Having played the European festival and gig circuit for a number of years steadily honing their craft, the Swedish four-piece sound assured and measured this evening. “Bad Luck” and “Something” off last year’s excellent third LP Sincere ooze class and elegance while “I’m Yours Baby” off the same record is delivered with a similar impeccable nous. “Stay Gold” from 2016’s debut You Tried serves as a timely reminder why we fell in love with them in the first place, and even though time constraints force them to drop a couple of songs off tonight’s setlist they can hold their heads high with aplomb.
For Annelotte De Graaf and Amber Arcades, every record and subsequent tour has heralded a stark reinvention from her previous works and latest album Barefoot On Diamond Road is no exception. Her first for Fire Records, Barefoot On Diamond Road is also arguably the most personal collection of songs to come from Amber Arcades so its fitting that three of the record’s key moments get an airing this evening. “Odd To Even” and “True Love” both portray different sides of its creator’s panache for not only penning incisive lyrics but also in putting them to disparate, sonic arrangements with consummate ease. Similarly with “Just Like Me”, the other song played from the new LP tonight.
Playing with a four-piece band, its the reinterpretations of a number of songs off 2016’s debut Fading Lines that turns heads. Charged up and almost punk rock in their application, “Come With Me” and “Fading Lines” take on a new lease of life in the live arena. Faster, heavier and packing a punch, both hitting the spot with caustic glee. Likewise “Apophenia”, “This Time” and “Turning Light”, the latter reinstated as set closer as it used to be during those early Amber Arcades shows some seven years ago.
It’s a triumphant return to both the UK and live setting in general for Annelotte De Graaf and Arcade Arcades, and with another tour muted for later this year, 2023 looks set to be a big year for one of the Netherlands’ finest exports in recent times.