Written by Jonelle Mandseth
Hamilton natives and Canadian alt-rock favourites Arkells rocked the Shaw Conference Centre Friday night in Edmonton, Alberta; setting the bar high for any musicians looking to win over Edmontonians in the city later this year.
Kicking off the Canadian leg of their tour for 2016 release, Morning Report, in Vancouver on February 1st, Edmonton was the second show of the tour. Having played three shows previously in the city, with the latest being 2016’s Labour Day weekend Sonic Boom festival, frontman Max Kerman stated that the Friday night show was the “biggest headline show [they’ve] ever played.”
Despite a nearly two hour set, and fueled by their own excitement, the band succeeded in keeping the crowd alive for a significant portion of their time on stage. Guitarist Mike DeAngelis, with help from Kerman, found himself at the center of attention numerous times. Keyboardist Anthony Carone wowed everyone, including his bandmates, with genuinely badass keyboard solos and trumpet skills. Opening the night with track “A Little Rain (A Song For Pete)”, fans were instantly on their feet and full of energy. Kerman – jumping into the crowd mid-way through the song – may have been a contributing factor, but didn’t let the energy falter once returning to his place on stage.
After cracking out tracks from all four studio albums, including crowd pleasers “Come to Light”, “Michigan Left”, and “11:11”, the band agreed it was time for acoustic “campfire vibes”, strumming along in a circle on stage as the crowd swayed with them. With all the venue lights turned off, Arkellians were asked to light up the concert hall with pure phone-flashlight power (as close to a campfire as the band could get whilst onstage performing to thousands). The campfire rendition, however, proved to be a bit of a crowd-killer. The room’s energy noticeably declined until fan-favourite “Dirty Blonde” got things moving again, with the help of a lucky girl pulled from the audience. Dancing across the stage and on top of speakers with Kerman, the girl’s enthusiasm diffused its way through sweaty bodies until the entire audience found themselves once again dancing away.
The album’s second single, “Drake’s Dad”, saw Kerman in the crowd yet again, this time 15 rows deep singing along with what he called the “Non-Denominational Gospel Choir of Edmonton”. The choir, made up of surrounding fans, found themselves providing the same vocals as the gospel choir featured in the track’s studio recording. The final song (before the encore, of course), was none other than Morning Report’s first single, “Private School”, and did exactly what it needed to get the crowd wanting the encore they rightly deserved. For the second time that night, and third for frontman Frank Turner (he’d earlier been challenged by Kerman to a “battle of rock”), opening act Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls found themselves back onstage, this time providing instrumentals to “Private School” as all five Arkells surfed the crowd. Very rarely do you find an entire band crowd surfing – especially at the same time – but Arkells proved that if anyone’s capable, it’s them.
The multi-song encore found itself to be the height of the crowd’s energy throughout the evening. Including tracks like “Whistleblower”, “Cynical Bastards”, and closing the night with their biggest hit, “Leather Jacket”, anyone outside the building would have heard fans shouting back the lyrics. Jumping, dancing, and shouting all over each other, it was easy to see the entire concert hall was enjoying themselves, and nobody would be going home without at least one sore muscle or bruise. Arkells showed their fans and critics alike that they know what a concert is and how it should feel, even insisting on taking a group photo with the crowd before exiting the stage. It’s really no wonder Arkells have skyrocketed so rapidly to become the band music lovers are talking about across the nation.
Will you be catching Arkells on the Morning Report tour?
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