Arkells played two sold-out shows at the iconic Massey Hall this past weekend. Both shows sold out within two days of tickets being put on-sale back in August. I was lucky enough to attend the second night and am still buzzing from the excitement.
The band opened their set with the basic kick-snare pattern found in the song “Drake’s Dad”, off of their latest album, Morning Report. Cheers and clapping were heard as the band walked onstage to their instruments. It was at this moment we all knew we were in for quite the evening. The band’s humble but energetic stage presence completely engulfed fans; some were at the first sold-out Massey Hall show the previous night and back for round two. What’s the point, you ask? Both night’s sets weren’t identical. No Arkells show is ever the same as another.
From hosting a Bruce Springsteen trivia-karaoke session with opener Frank Turner midway through their set, to completely reducing “And Then Some” down to a version where only a single microphone was used to capture the sound of all five Arkells members gathered around it, fans witnessed a once-in-a-life-time performance. The historical venue paired with the modern sounds off of Arkells’ releases brought Arkells fans of all ages together. Whether you’ve been listening to Arkells since Jackson Square or more recently got into them with their most recent album Morning Report, all were welcome and able to enjoy the almost two hour set with the constant group singalong tracks. The highlight was when the lights were turned off completely for part of “Dirty Blonde” and vocalist Max Kerman encouraged the crowd to dance like nobody was watching. As a seated venue, fans were limited by how much movement could be had but this seemed to put all into a carefree and confident dancing mood.
I have seen Arkells a few times now. Each time, I have spoken with someone afterwards who left as a new and converted fan. This time was no different. I brought a friend who was familiar with the band but did not necessarily deem themselves a dedicated listener. The band’s energy was contagious, their stage presence inspirational, and talent unforgettable. My friend left Massey Hall with a whole new love for Arkells. If you’re reading this as someone who hasn’t seen the band live or hesitated with purchasing tickets, take the plunge. You won’t regret seeing them. If you’re reading this as someone who was at the show or someone who has tickets for an upcoming show, I’m preaching to the choir. Thank you for reading and thank you to Arkells and Massey Hall for an unbelievably memorable night.
Time to count down the days until their hometown show in Hamilton, ON at FirstOntario Centre.
Check out a few photos from night two at Massey Hall below.