Concert Review: Arkells @ Adelaide Hall

Arkells played a secret, sold-out show in Toronto on Thursday night. They announced the show on the 23rd of January to those signed up for their mailing list, and tickets sold out within minutes. That dedication was apparent almost as soon as “Coming Cars” began; instead of a sea of cell phones, fans danced, sang along, and enjoyed being part of the intimate crowd at Adelaide Hall. Max Kerman seemed equally appreciative to be playing there that night, noting that there was “not a bad seat in the house.”

The band ran through some new tracks as well as old, loved ones, including “Michigan Left” from their 2011 album of the same title and a solid, weighty selection from 2008’s Jackson Square. “Oh, the Boss is Coming!” was dedicated to Pete Seeger, while “Cynical Bastards” went out to their manager (Jack Ross). During “No Champagne Socialist” Anthony Carone (vocals, keyboard, guitar) added in some harmonica accompaniment. Later in the night, Carone wooed the audience again with a piano solo.

Aside from Arkells’ ability to put on a show that completely engages the audience with just the right amount of banter and by encouraging sing-a-longs, I was impressed by the length of their set: 20 songs, no breaks—except for the few minutes before beginning their encore, which consisted of “On Paper,” “Rock the Cabash,” and “John Lennon.” The Clash cover was enhanced by Kerman’s “Walk Like An Egyptian” inspired dance moves, but also proved that despite the layering of musical influences and references, Arkells are able to put together a show that holds a unique energy.


Also impressive was the older man standing to my right on Adelaide Hall’s upper level. My intuition is that he’s Kerman’s dad (they nodded to each other at one point during the set), and he knew all the words, gesticulated on cue with every smash of the drums.

In the end, Arkells were just as stoked to be at Adelaide as the fans were to have them, and that combination made for a memorable show that proved why tickets sold out in just minutes.

For more concert photos, click here.

Leah Edwards | @leahhedwards

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