Arkells Turn It Up To 11:11
Photos by Kamara Morozuk
Few bands are as consistent as the Arkells. The Hamilton boys delivered their latest in a long line of Ottawa sets at TD Place on a Monday night of all nights. Bringing along England's Frank Turner for the ride, worthy of a headlining set in his own right, the night packed in more amazing music on a Monday than most people see all weekend.
Frank Turner set the bar for the night opening on his high energy hit "I Still Believe" screaming out to crowd with relentless energy, enough so that Max from the Arkells even came out early to fill in for their harmonica solo. Pulling up a crowd member for "Dan's Song" to play the harmonica solo, the crowd was seemingly full of endless talent, which became very apparent during the Arkells set. After some time playing solo, wishing happy birthday to an audience member and burning through his classic track "Recovery" Turner delivered more action and attitude than an acoustic guitar and a shirt and tie combo would imply. Even throwing some crowd surfing in the mix his set had enough moments to satisfy for the whole night, but since he was just the opening act the night was just getting under way.
The Arkells always pick a peculiar opener, making it no surprise that "A Little Rain (A Song For Pete)" kicked the door open for their powerful set, setting a tempo for the band's energy. Max from the band was ceaseless in his energy during the set in an attempt to as he put "make it feel like a Friday night even though it's Monday," and considering the seated section was standing throughout their set, they succeeded.
The band burned through hits like "Michigan Left," "Come To Light" and the chant heavy "Ballad of Hugo Chavez" riling up the crowd as they went, making slower tracks like "Passenger Seat" a welcome change of pace before returning to the dance of "11:11."
The first surprise of the night however came when the band crowded around a few studio mics with their acoustic guitars and a little drum for an acoustic rendition of "And Then Some," creating a fake sun by getting the whole crowd to light up the arena with their cell phones. Going to Jackson Square track "Oh, the Boss Is Coming!" the band got a fan to play guitar and to the crowd's surprise they nailed it. Switching to "Pullin Punches" they broke into a karaoke session with Frank Turner, claiming he was earning his doctorate in rock and roll, and after belting out "Dancing In The Dark" and "My Girl" Turner didn't disappoint, even revealing his tattoo dedicated to the Boss.
But as the band started "Drake's Dad" Max appeared dead centre of the seated crowd, calling them all towards him as a posse, and even grabbing them to sing passionately inches from their faces. The band even grew some local love getting strangers in the crowd to hug and hold shoulders for "My Heart's Always Yours."
Returning to some straightforward pop on "Book Club" and "On Paper" the band lit a fire through the rest of their set. This turned to an epic flame on the set closer "Private School," where the band jumped ship after a chorus to crowd surf, seamlessly passing off their instruments to Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls to keep the music going while they surfed, Anthony even bringing his trumpet with him. The band returned to the stage for a shred filled finale complete with pulsating lights and explosions of beer.
Coming back for the encore they returned with a country version of "Whistleblower", moving from a stripped back feel to a southern grit that fit the song all too well. With an extended run of "Cynical Bastards" the band reached the end of their set going into a euphoric rendition of "Leather Jacket" complete with Max donning a leather jacket from the audience, that stranger than anything all night, fit him like it was tailor-made, even getting vocal reactions from his bandmates.
If Max wanted the band to deliver a set that brought Ottawa to the weekend on a Monday, he more than succeeded and considering their set even ended at 11:11 the band couldn't have timed it any better either.
A Little Rain (A Song For Pete)
Come To Light
Ballad of Hugo Chavez
Never Thought That This Would Happen
And Then Some (Acoustic/Campfire Style)
Oh, The Boss Is Coming!
(Frank Turner Karaoke (Dancing In The Dark/Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out/My Girl))
Drake's Dad (Max enters crowd)
Crawling Through The Window
My Heart's Always Yours
Private School (Frank Turner & Sleeping Souls playing for them)