The Arkells Live From the Vancouver Olympics

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The Arkells were one of the bands I was really looking forward to checking out during the Olympics.  The band was just nominated for a Juno award for best new group.  (If you're not familiar with the Junos, they're like the Grammies, but for Canadians.)  Busy little beavers, the Arkells played 4 different shows during the Olympics.  I saw them the Friday night they were opening for the Sam Roberts Band at the Surrey Celebration Site.
Full of energy and smiles, the band didn't disappoint. The Arkells are a fun band to see live. A rock band with quirky songs and great stage presence.  I think they played pretty much every song on their album "Jackson Square".  If you're not familiar with these guys, I definitely suggest you check them out.  It's a fun listen.  They're one of those bands that grow on you the more you listen to their music.  It's good right off the bat, but after a few more listens, you really realize how great they are.  Yeah, the songs have fun names like "Oh, the Boss is Coming!"and "No Champagne Socialist", but isn't that just another reason to like them?

Lead vocalist Max Kerman definitely seemed to be enjoying the interaction with the audience during the show.  He's one of those guys that adds some fun banter to between songs.  I don't know about you, but I tend to like that.  For me, it makes for a closer experience between the band and the audience.  Kerman shared some fun anecdotes about the songs.  Did you know that the album is named after the Jackson Square Mall in their hometown of Hamilton, Ontario?  A couple of the songs also draw inspiration from said mall.

Reaching the end of "John Lennon", the Arkells led the audience in a chorus from the Beatles "With a Little Help From My Friends".   How fun!  During Sam Roberts's set, he brought the Arkells back on stage to help with his song, "Brother Down".  (More on that in an upcoming post.)  I didn't really want the show to end. It was so much fun.

Never heard the Arkells, but want to?  Check out this nifty video for "Oh, The Boss is Coming!":

Dan Mangan Live From the Vancouver Olympics

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I know I've said this before, but free concerts are awesome. Just awesome. I saw 4 great bands back to back one night at one of the Olympic celebration sites. For free. Insanity, I tell you. After doing this a few times, you get really good at figuring out what time to get in line so you don't have to stand there for more than a few minutes. It's an art, almost. We kept trying to take pictures of the lines the first night we went out for a show, but they all ended up blurry. Even so, it's still beautiful in this city, even standing in line for two hours in the rain.


I'd heard of Dan Mangan, but I'd never seen his show.  He seemed so excited and almost disbelieving that he was playing in his hometown of Vancouver at the Olympics.  He was charming, bashful, friendly and just fantastic.  If you've never heard of Dan Mangan, I highly recommend you go in search of his music and give it a chance.  Here, let me help you.

Being at the show was like having "one of those" late night conversations with your best friend.  You've had a few drinks maybe, or you're just feeling a bit vulnerable.  Everything is said with such candor, you immediately feel closer.  You're getting a little peak into Mangan's soul, most definitely.  It's touching and moving and gives you the hunger for more.  Here's a snippet of "You Silly Git" to give you an idea:

i’m mr. charming without the charming
and i can hear the eyebrows raise when i start singing
’cause the songs i sing are all about myself.
you can read me like a book, i’m not as clever as i look.
i’ve got a sneaky kind of selfish that i keep up on the shelf
with jars of double-sided comments for people who’ve done nothing wrong.
preparing for the lights and always practicing my sha-na-na’s

After the show, I bought Mangan's newest album, "Nice, Nice, Very Nice".  For a guy with a guitar, the sound is quite full.  The feeling in the songs resonates.  It's a bit of a voyeuristic feeling to really examine what's being said.  Each lyric is dripping with sincerity and raw honesty.  I can't stop listening to it. It's also really fun to hear songs that mention Vancouver here and there.  My favorite on the album, "Tina's Glorious Comeback" starts with a bit about this city.  I think it makes me like that song even more.

Go listen, and if you're lucky enough to find him playing in your town, by all means go!  There aren't many shows you'll go to where the guy behind you might yell "I love robots!" randomly during the show.

I'm going to write about each of the bands we saw during the Olympics.  You can look forward to more posts about Sam Roberts, the Arkells, Jully Black, Tambura Rasa, Chocolat, the Stereophonics and Damian Marley

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