Thursday, July 30, 2009

Arkells Silence Doubts (Hillside '09)

Just last year, at the oh-eight Hillside in fact, I recall meeting a friend of a friend and commenting on her concert tee. She was surprised by my awareness of the band and said she only had the shirt because she knew some of the members. Fast forward to this year's Saturday night of Hillside where that very band, The Arkells, were set to close things down in the Island Tent. Goes to show how big the past year has been for this Hamiltonian band. However they had their work cut out for them trying to follow the ridiculously energetic set by Woodhands who had just departed. Frankly I didn't see how they were going to live up to it, even having being thoroughly impressed with the Arkells last time they'd come around.
[Pictured: Love for the Arkells]
Blasting out of the gate with a raucous rendition of Deadlines they kept the energy going with the catchy Pullin' Punches. The handful of people who'd left after Woodhands (probably due to exhaustion or dehydration) had been replaced with at least as many again, cramming the tent. Security attempted to keep people off the picnic benches during Heart of the City but by the time they covered Smokey Robinson's Tears of a Clown with that Motown feel people were dancing and snapping wherever they could get two feet on the ground (or table in this case). After a new track, Country Boy(?), they broke into the awesome John Lennon. During this track they brought things to a pause just as in the recorded version, and held it as the rabid crowd went off, until finally bursting back in with a musical breakdown of epic proportions. The only way to follow that up was with Champagne Socialist and its mean harmonica. Predictably (though definitely not unwelcomed) they closed the set down with radio-hit, as well as rockin' track, Oh, The Boss is Coming! Leaving the stage the singer tossed the mic in the air, letting it crash to the ground while still on, meaning that throughout calls for an encore there was a reverberating hum of our own cheers back at us through the speakers. On the verge of exhaustion we lapped up Blueprint and though already hoarse and with sore hands we hollered and clapped as best as possible to show our appreciation for the show. Realizing my doubts were unfounded, I acknowledged that the Arkells turned out to be a perfect ending to a wild night!

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