LIVE REVIEW: Arkells at Heaven, London – 23rd November 2018

Arkells are no strangers to the pages of CelebMix and with good reason because we absolutely love their music. The Canadian pop-rock outfit are currently out on tour across the UK in support of their new album Rally Cry, we were lucky enough to head to the Heaven show in London on Friday.

Support act for this tour came from Felix Hagan & The Family, with this being our first experience of the band it was definitely memorable, to say the least. Led by Felix with his flamboyant onstage persona it was a sparkly fest with feather boas and glitter everywhere which was the perfect Friday night outfits. Be A Freak with female dual vocals and lyrics such as “sing loud especially if you can’t sing” got the crowd going and doing exactly as the band asked. With such a big group onstage, we couldn’t help but think the incredibly catchy songs deserved an even bigger stage. As Kiss The Misfits rolled in we caught a wave of 80s vibes making us want to be up on stage where the party was at. We can’t wait for our next Felix Hagan & The Family live experience to have a great time all over again.

Arkells latest album Rally Cry is slowly becoming one of our most played albums of the year so we truly couldn’t wait to see the band live for the first time. With a simplistic, yet powerful black and white background stating ‘Arkells Touring Band’ they appeared to recent single Relentless. This powerful anthemic track was made even more impressive as the crowd chanted “that’s what I call a rally cry” led by vocalist Max Kerman.

Playing a substantial amount of material from their latest album Eyes On The Prize saw Max not wanting to perform on the stage instead taking the chance to see fans up close and personal. Making his way through from the front to the back of the crowd, before heading up into the balcony overlooking the crowd he was lapping it up we were seeing the best of one of the strongest frontmen in pop-rock even if not everybody knows this yet. People’s Champ has become a track which many people can relate to, whether this is on a large or small scale there really are many people’s champs out in the world. Hearing this track live ignited something within the crowd, it was ferocious, fiery and full of energy which was perfect for the Friday night show. Some tracks sound even better when performed live, this is one of those tracks. Speaking out against those trying to divide communities and opinions, it became a party atmosphere with the band clearly loving every moment of the show it was impossible for this to not be filtered into the crowd.

Throughout the night one thing which was incredibly apparent is the strength of the friendship between the five-piece. Whether this was Max Kerman, Mike DeAngelis and Nick Dika taking to the front of the stage as the power trio egging each other on as they smash their guitar work or the simplest of smiles shared across the stage to recognise each other’s great work. It’s genuine and we think that’s just one of the many reasons Arkells are such an important band.

Older material including Never Thought This Would Happen taken from their third album High Noon, the crowd’s voice was loud enough for Max to forget about singing during points in this track instead we became mesmerized by the musical abilities shown across the stage. Emotion is something which Arkells know how to do with ease as Only For A Moment provided an escape for many during that track, simply forgetting everything else that was going on outside of those four walls. It was really special, in fact, it was a wave of emotion without even trying to be. Stripping things right back came with And Then Some, totally changing the vibe of the show as Mike and Max had all eyes on them. Asking the fans to only making a noise if they knew the words was never going to work, especially when Max forgot the words himself. This sincere, serenading moment turned back into Arkells chaos as the full band rejoined flaunting a totally different dynamic whilst performing the same track.

Fake Money and 11:11 made an appearance meaning there really was something for fans both old and new on tonight’s setlist. Fake Money is an English folk vibed track and in Max’s words “even before we knew Frank, we were ripping Frank off” but we’ll let them off! Something a little different came with 11:11, asking the crowd what time it was we were tempted to reply ‘Chico time!’ but that’s definitely not the answer as the 11:11 screams revealed. Arkells might not be the biggest name in the UK yet but that hasn’t stopped them having a very loyal fanbase watching and supporting their every move.

With the band not frequenting London, especially not the iconic Heaven venue on a Friday night there were subtle nods to Trafalgar Square and The River Thames during songs in their set. Show Me Don’t Tell Me with red lights to set the mood, asked if we’re flying into Gatwick or Heathrow; cue a shouting match from the crowd about which airport is better. (Spoiler: It’s Heathrow). These little touches made this sold-out show even more memorable.

As we ventured nearer to the end of the set the memorable moments were out in force. Saturday Night featured London saxophone player Nate who they met on their Hamburg to London flight earlier this week. Fitting perfectly into the band it was clear every single person in that room was loving it, we felt like it was a Saturday night when we wouldn’t be doing anything the next day as we’d partied too hard at the Arkells show! We had a drum solo from Tim Oxford, the “better-looking version” of Max coming on to play the guitar during Private School showing the mutual love for their fans. But the best memorable moment came with Hand Me Downs, arguably one of the bands most loved tracks and it showed. Thanking the crowd for being there tonight it was a party, singing at the top of our lungs with a smile firmly on our face the crowd was showered in confetti. We mean who doesn’t love a bit of confetti let’s be honest? Leaving the stage to a chorus of “woah woah” which never look set to end we had a feeling we’d not seen the last of Arkells.

Bringing Felix Hagan &The Family back out, Max informed everyone “Theresa May stole this from ABBA and we’re gonna steal it back” before kicking into Dancing Queen. It was onstage madness, with no space left to move, a lot of choreographed dance routines and everyone wanting to get their hands on the mic for their starring moment. We. Loved. It. Giving it their all one last time, My Heart’s Always Yours was impossible to not smile during, thanking the crowd numerous times and seeming humbled to be playing the venue they initiated crowd hugs (big love to the stranger for ours, it made our night even better!) and took time to thank the whole team. Arkells ended on a resounding high with this track, it could not have been a more memorable end to an extremely great night.

As the crowd filtered out the venue all we were surrounded by was smiling faces in awe of the show they’d just seen Arkells are incredible at what they do, excelling live by captivating your attention completely throughout the set with their flawless musicianship. Living in the moment is important, getting away from the seriousness and filling it with fun was definitely the theme of the night. It might have been a couple of days since the show but whenever we think about how much fun we can’t help but smile again.

If you’d like to find your new favourite band, we reckon Arkells could be a good fit for the post.

Have you checked out Arkells before? Which is your favourite track? Tweet us @CelebMix to let us know!

Written by Nicola Craig

Lover of all things pop, a boyband or two, and discovering new artists to get hooked on. You'll usually find me at a gig, truly living my best life without a care in the world.