The last time I saw a live music concert was just prior to the start of the COVID Pandemic in 2019. The band I saw that night in Oshawa, Ontario was The Arkells. What a fabulous show! They opened with their current hit at the time, “Knocking At The Door” and never took their foot off the gas for the next two hours. The Arkells are listed as a rock band but they are as much a soul band as anything else. When you listen to any Arkells song, you are apt to hear rock influences, Motown influences, gospel influences and sometimes, a little country, too.
The members of the band include lead singer Max Kerman, keyboardist Anthony Carone, bassist Nick Dika, guitarist Mike DeAngelis and drummer Tim Oxford. The five guys all hail from Hamilton, Ontario, and all grew up on or near to Arkell Street, which is where the band got their name. The Arkells have been awarded the Group of the Year Award at the Junos four times in the past decade. Their albums have gone four times platinum to date. They tour relentlessly. And when they couldn’t tour because of the pandemic, The Arkells were one of the best bands at using social media to maintain their connection to their fans. I have said this before and I will say it again, if any band is ever to fill the musical shoes of The Tragically Hip in this country, it will be The Arkells.
Many of the songs that The Arkells have released have to do with growing up in a blue collar city like Hamilton. As many of you may be aware, Hamilton is known for making steel that is exported across Canada and the world. Its reputation as a hotbed of the Labour Movement is well earned. Consequently, the members of The Arkells grew up in an environment where being a steelworker was a respected career path. Even though all of the band members attended university at McMaster and could have pursued professional careers had music not called instead, the band has always embraced the working class world in which each member lived as kids. This sense of hometown pride reflects itself in songs that namedrop various neighbourhoods and local landmarks in the city. Their lyrics also contain political themes that tend to reflect the party line of the Labour Movement. A few examples include songs like “People’s Champ” (which rapped the knuckles of former U.S. President Trump while he was still in office), “Champagne Socialist” (which is about wealthy people…usually politicians…who pretend to care about working class people and the struggle they face to make ends meet each week), “Whistleblower” (which is all about the state of journalism today and the need to hold elected officials and large corporations to account) and finally, “Knocking At The Door” (which was written as an act of solidarity with those who were organizing the large “Women’s Marches” that took place in the U.S. a few years ago.
In a bit of an editorial note: I have had many readers of my blog comment about the artists and bands that they say “I promote”. I just want to be perfectly clear that I don’t always like the artists/bands that appear on my blog, as people or as musicians. The reason that I profile them is because I feel that there is a story there worth sharing with all of you. It may be about the way the song was made or about what the subject matter is or about how it affected the artist or how it affected us, as listeners. My ego is not so big, that even if I present artists, bands or genres of music that aren’t to my taste, I can still find positive things to say about them. Having said that, if I am endorsing someone or some band in one of my posts I will definitely let you all know. Just so we can all practice this, let’s give it a try. I really like The Arkells. I think they are an amazing live band. Their concert in 2019 helped get me through those quiet pandemic years. I would happily see them again in concert. By the time they are finished as a band or else I am too old to be going out on my own, there stands a good chance that The Arkells will be the answer to the trivia question: which band have you seen live the most times? Presently the answer to that question remains The Tragically Hip.
I hope that you enjoy the song, “Knocking At The Door” that I have chosen for this post. This particular song was filmed in Hamilton at a football stadium that used to be known as Ivor Wynne Stadium and is now Tim Hortons Field. The way they opened the show in their hometown is the exact same way they opened the show that I saw in Oshawa a few days earlier. These guys are awesome. If you think so too, then by all means, check them out further by watching some of their other videos on YouTube. For now, I leave you with “Knocking At The Door” by The Arkells. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song “Knocking At The Door” by The Arkells can be found here. ***There is no lyrics version of this song. Sorry.
The link to the official website for The Arkells can be found here.
The link to the official website for the city of Hamilton, Ontario, can be found here.
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