“We’ve got three rules,” said Arkells frontman, Max Kerman. The band had just finished their opening song, Hand Me Downs, at the Sleeman Centre on Friday night. “Rule number one: You have to dance. Rule number two: You have to sing. Rule number three: you have to look out for each other.” With that, Kerman set out everything you need to know about an Arkells show.
The band is in the midst of the second leg of their Rally Cry tour, with this being the first sold out show of the run. Atop a stage that looks like something that would have been built for a band to play on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Somehow, though, even with the elaborate staging, Kerman and the band are able to make it seem more intimate than that. As he brought up their first gig more than a decade ago at “Jimmy Jazz, just around the corner,” as well as shows at eBar, he brought everyone in the room together.
It was when they did things like inviting more than a dozen fans up on the stage, because they were wearing his signature Rainbow Fringe on their sleeves, to sing with the band on Only For a Moment. It was when they played And Then Some, inviting couples to head over to a designated part of the floor to enjoy a slow dance. Among Friday night’s couples? The parents of Kerman and guitarist Mike DeAngelis.
It was when they set the whole band up at the front of the ego ramp with a drum kit that would make Ringo Starr look like Neil Peart for a more intimate performance of Book Club, and took that opportunity to thank the DeAngelis family for all their support in those early years of the band.
It was these moments and several others in which they connected with everyone in the room, a room which is, it should be noted, a hockey arena.
As intimate as the band made the show, don’t misunderstand that to mean energy was low. Kerman referred to Rule 2 and made sure everyone was moving, often leaving the stage to make it so.
As for Rule 1, the audience, which covered a wide range of ages, didn’t disappoint Kerman’s request, singing along with everything from all 5 albums.
Nashville’s Coin did an admirable job opening, cutting through the challenging low end acoustics of a not yet full hockey arena. The chorus of Crash My Car, in particular, landed with the crowd.
Chase and Joe from Coin came out to join the Arkells during the encore, for their cover of Robyn’s Dancing on My Own, and it’s clear that they were a great fit as an opener. They fit the song, and the performance like a glove. Putting a cap on a great show.
Everyone sang, everyone danced, everybody looked out for each other. They all earned the win.