Review: The Arkells @ Centennial Concert Hall
The first time I saw the Arkells was many years ago at Pyramid Cabaret. They played with the Waking Eyes (oh, how I miss the Waking Eyes) and I left with a headache. As the Advil slid down my throat I vowed never to see Arkells again until they either chose ONE singer, or learned to harmonize.
It’s been almost a decade. That should be enough time.
The only thing I knew about Frank Turner was what my friends said about him:
“Oh my God, I looooove Frank Turner! He’s sooooo much fun!”
My friends and I don’t always like the same things, so my response was always “Alrighty…”
I’m going to cut to the chase; I’m now a fan of Frank Turner. Friends you were right, oh my God, he IS sooooo much fun!
Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls took the stage like they were the opening act; FULL of energy and more than ready to perform. Every member jumped and danced around on stage and that energy carried through their whole set.
During the first song, I realized Frank was British. Some of his songs had that very British, “your life is $hitty but you’re with your buddies in a pub, so jump around while holding your drink in the air” feel to them, which made me feel nostalgic about living abroad.
In the middle, the band left the stage and Frank professed his love for The Weakerthans and Winnipeg while singing “One Great City”. Whenever he sang the lyric, “I Hate Winnipeg” he footnoted that he didn’t hate Winnipeg, and at one point told us he walked down all the streets mentioned in the song and they were “Cool as fu@k”.
After that song, he brought a woman named “Jackie” on stage who told him she was “tone deaf and drunk” and he taught her to play the harmonica with him to “Dan’s Song”. She actually sounded not too bad.
“Four Simple Words” closed out his 2,021st set (seriously, that’s how many shows he’s played so far). The whole time I thought “Wow…this guy is such a frontman…fantastic” and then he jumped in the audience and walked over the chairs to the back of the Concert Hall. While walking, he kept singing and even intro’d the band. GREAT frontman.
I think there was a standing ovation at the end, but I was too busy jumping and woo-hooing to notice.
I bought a cheap seat for this show in the second balcony, but the next time Frank is in town, I’m buying a seat closer to the front. It’ll be worth it.
The lights went up and I sat back in my seat and worried about the Arkells. I’ve been to shows where the warm up band out-shined the headliner and those shows kind of suck. I wondered how in the world Arkells were going to top Frank’s performance.
I don’t know why I worry so much. Arkells held their own.
The band took the stage to “War” and kicked off an energetic “A Little Rain (A Song For Pete)”. Vocalist, Max Kerman briefly jumped in the audience, which riled them up even more.
“Hung Up” detoured into politics with Max telling us their tour started in the USA in January and that they were inspired by the Women’s March. He urged us to “be persistent in fighting the good fight.”
The crowd jumped, danced and sang to “11:11” and the whole Concert Hall lit up with cell phone lights during the acoustic “And Then Some”.
Frank Turner returned to the stage during “Pullin’ Punches” and the Arkells played “Bruce Springsteen Karaoke” with him in the middle of the song. He was able to guess and sing all Bruce Springsteen songs correctly, thus securing his “PHD in Rock & Roll” status.
Later in the show the band brought out Rusty Matyas for “My Heart’s Always Yours”. I literally jumped out of my seat and cheered. I love Rusty and it’s always such a treat to hear him play.
Max encouraged everyone to link arms and sway side to side during that song, and they did! It was really cool to see from the second balcony.
The last song before the encore was “Private School”, which felt awkward and clumsy, compared to their other songs.
Max came out by himself for the encore and gushed over the Weakerthans and then started “Whistleblower” before the rest of the band joined him on stage.
“Leather Jacket” ended the show with the obligatory band/crowd picture in the middle of the song.
I can’t believe the level of energy and enthusiasm those bands produced. It was a great show, way better than I ever imagined it would be.
As you’ve probably guessed, I didn’t take these pictures. These are Dwayne Larson’s shots from Its A Music Thing. Head over to his page to see more awesome pics of tonight’s Arkells/Frank Turner show!
TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMsters