Arkells consistently impressive

Hamilton rock band Arkells made a triumphant return to the K-W area Thursday, Feb. 9, performing to a packed house at Kitchener’s Elements Nightclub. The rising stars showcased the style and refinement of seasoned pros while still exuding the friendliness and on-stage relatability of a blossoming indie band.

Though Arkells are no stranger to K-W, they always manage to provide the crowd with an experience that is unique and different from their last performance. This most recent show was no exception.

Showcasing their recently released second full-length album Michigan Left, the band managed to perform all but one track from the new album and also feature all but five songs from 2008’s Jackson Square.

Opening their set with the upbeat titular track of Michigan Left, Arkells kept the energy high until the much-anticipated encore, which featured fan favourites “On Paper” and “John Lennon,” as well as a rock-infused cover of Hall and Oates’ pop classic “You Make my Dreams Come True.” The inclusion of the cover was unexpected but expertly delivered and the group replicated the tune with such finesse that those unfamiliar with the song may have mistaken it for an Arkells original.

The band also played a brief tribute to fellow indie rockers The Black Keys when during the breakdown of their 2009 single “Pullin’ Punches,” lead singer Max Kerman lead the crowd in a singalong of the chorus to The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy.”

It was moves like this that kept the crowd engaged throughout the performance.

Though they delivered a lengthy set, the songs never dragged on, and the crowd reacted passionately to Arkells with uninhibited dancing and group chanting. The fans’ dedication and love for the relatively young band was apparent, and Kerman played off the energy of his audience.

Opening band The Darcys provided a hard yet uniquely melodic sound that complimented Arkells’ sound without being tediously similar, though the band’s effect-heavy sound clearly took some time to grow on the audience. By the end of their set, The Darcys had found their footing and appeared to be affecting the fans more.

Arkells, who have seen their star rise significantly since first releasing Jackson Square in the fall of 2008, still gave off the vibe of laid-back hometown indie band. They loyally supported and promoted The Darcys during their set, and most importantly kept the audience reminded that it was all for them.

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