Arkells and Felix Hagan & The Family

Heaven, London
Felix Hagan and The Family made an unforgettable impression during Frank Turner’s Lost Evenings festival earlier this year. The vast majority of those jamming The Roundhouse didn’t get to see – no, EXPERIENCE – their set because they were in the main room watching Arkells (ironically!) The gut wrenching decision to leave Arkells early was rewarded by a sweaty, intimate, hot mess of a fabulous show.

Could that translate to a 1800 capacity venue? Hell yes. Attention Seeker was a fitting title for the opening track, in the most endearing way possible. Gene Kelly seemed both ultra-current and somehow timeless. Kiss the Misfits was insanely catchy and inclusive: “you’ll find your heart in the backroom tonight/where souls collide and the night comes to life/so kiss the misfts/dance with the punks.”

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The show was an intriguing and vital combination of Rocky Horror style theatrical moves, aerobics video, and relentless rock show.

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Really, Felix Hagan & The Family should tour with Arkells all the damn time or headline their own epic shows. It’s not fair for your average band to have to follow that.

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Felix Hagan and The Family’s album Attention Seeker and Kiss the Misfits EP are both available through their website.

“This is a warning to any fucking fascist, any fucking demagogue”
Judging from the Frank Turner t-shirts and tattoos as far as the eye could see, his vocal and unflinching support has helped generate a loyal fan base for Canadian band Arkells in the UK.

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Within seconds of starting it was clear that the support was well-justified, but that immediate impact generating passionate word-of-mouth would have generated an eager base with or without famous friends.

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The opening number had a 90s hip-hop cadence, and the call and response style continued through the night even as the songs settled in to a more traditional all-out rock approach. Like Turner, Northcote, Dave Hause and their contemporaries, Arkells are all about powerful songs that are easy to pick up and sing back, delivered earnestly and powerfully.

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Perhaps knowing first-hand the power of unifying a crowd and fostering a community was why singer Max Kerman was so vocal in opposing political leaders who misuse their position. People’s Champ was a catchy but searing indictment: “I can see through all this fake shit/The highest office’s sitting vacant.”

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In the best possible way, the live show wasn’t all about the lyrics, notwithstanding the sea of fans who sang every word. Kerman jumped down to the lower stage within seconds of the set starting, and within a few songs was way out in the crowd and singing up on the mezzanine!

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That set the pace and tone of a relentless, high-energy spectacle of a show. This kind of pure performance can’t be praised highly enough. This is what music is about. Don’t miss them next time.

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Rally Cry by Arkells is out now. Head to their website for details.

Like what you see? There are more photos of the show over on Flickr. Please follow me there, and here:

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