Amber Arcades at the Lexington
Stepping onto the well-trodden stage of the Lexington, Annelotte de Graaf, otherwise known as Amber Arcades, smiles at the audience and, as she launches into her first song, doesn’t say another word. She knows the score when you’re new and talented: don’t give too much away.
A former aide at the UN war crimes tribunals, she has burst onto the music scene with a refreshing take on the otherwise bloated electro-indie offering. Tremolo guitar hums in the background, giving the songs an extra juicy wobble, but de Graaf, who was born in the Netherlands but has also lived in Philadelphia, has a voice powerful enough to drive the melody home.
The songs are arresting: at one point there is a country vibe as the band indulge in some slide guitar, then they dig deep into the annals of the kind of 70s MOR that became the irony-drenched indie of the 90s, and then they wedge a great chunk of indie in the middle. Ella van der Woude, who plays the keyboard, is at the helm of a sizeable pedalboard, toggling and turning the knobs to create the whoops and fuzz and clatter that backs Amber Arcades’ chordal, catchy melodies.
But none of it seems indulgent. Bobbing around to her own tunes, de Graaf politely thanks the audience after each song, and then moves on to the next one. If you like your band leaders with a little more bite, then this may seem like the modesty is being laid on too thick. But there is a commanding air about Amber Arcades that speaks of the consummate musician, rather than anything timid.
They are great fun to watch, and they know what to do and how to do it. With de Graaf as the airy but alluring leader, they show that guitar music still has something to offer – and that they certainly do too.
Photo: Nick Helderman
For further information about Amber Arcades and future events visit here.
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