Secret Meeting score: 78
by Phil Scarisbrick
For the last two decades, Brighton-based independent label, Bella Union, has provided a home for many of the finest alternative acts. Their high quality stable has included Flaming Lips, Beach House, John Grant, Ezra Furman, Father John Misty, Mercury Rev, Fleet Foxes, Jonathan Wilson, Karl Blau, Laura Veirs, Midlake and The Walkmen to name a few. Last night, we headed to The Eagle Inn in Salford to check out the latest act to join the fold: Ari Roar.
The Texas-born singer/songwriter is currently in the midst of his first European tour. He’s never been to England before, so you could forgive him for not realising that The Eagle Inn in Manchester is, in his own words, “a very different venue” to his intended destination in Salford. However, the Salfordian audience were forgiving of this faux pas though, despite it usually being considered the cardinal sin.
Anyone familiar with his work will know that his songs don’t hang about – tonight’s eleven song set was no different, as he delivered a short, sharp collection of lo-fi indie topped with Beatles-evoking melodies. Racing through tracks from forthcoming debut album, Calm Down, each one came to life like a little nugget of joy or whimsy before coming to a halt barely two minutes later.
Opening with Karate Again, a track taken from his 2016 EP Patch Me Up, the three-piece backing band provided a delicate platform for Roar and the beautiful tones that emanated from his Danelectro guitar. Album highlights such as Picked The Lock and Hidden Playground further showcased his knack for writing concise, yet dynamically pleasing songs.
Album title track Calm Down, closed out the set- and the Vampire Weekend-esque pop song is endlessly catchy, and it’s definitely one that embeds itself deep into your skull once you’ve heard it.
The set almost feels over before it began, but don’t let that detract from the quality of the music on display here. Ari Roar feels like a star in the making, and yet more confirmation that Bella Union are one of the world’s finest labels for identifying unique and interesting artists. As American entertainer, PT Barnum, stated – “Always leave the audience wanting more”, and if what we’ve heard tonight is anything to go by, we’re certainly excited as to where Ari Roar’s journey takes him.