Some concerts the bands go up and play their music for the crowd and never say a word to the audience except thank you for coming and goodnight. There’s no showmanship or movement except for what they can do on their instruments and there is also absolutely nothing wrong with that. Then there are the shows where the bands give it their all, interact with the fans, and jumps all over the place and electrifies everything they touch. At Upstate Concert Hall this week the show was the latter of the two options described above.
Starting the night off was Englishman Will Varley who had the crowd laughing and singing along to his short set of acoustic numbers. His energy sprawled out into the crowd and had the venue buzzing with excitement for what was still to come. Arkells upped the ante, with lead singer Max Kerman going into the crowd during the first song of their set. In the middle of “My Heart’s Always Yours” Max told the crowd how keyboardist Anthony Carone always rides shot gun in the van as they travel and looks for Elton John songs on the radio. With that he played snippets of “Rocket Man,” “Tiny Dancer,” and a full band version of “Bennie and the Jets,” much to the crowd’s delight. They were having an absolute blast on stage and are ready to be headlining their own tours soon in bigger and bigger venues.
Finally, with an almost rabid sold-out crowd, Frank Turner strode on stage alone to start his set and as he finished up “I Knew Prufrock” his Sleeping Souls came out and they ran right into a high octane “The Next Storm” and for the next hour didn’t take their feet of the gas pedal. Number after number, the energy was just flowing through them and into the crowd and back. The only slower songs played during the entire show was when Frank, about two thirds of the way through the show played a couple of acoustic numbers on his own. Other than that it was just rocker after rocker, including a short take on Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” and a call for the crowd to do a version of Slayer’s “Wall of Death,” but instead of having it be a mosh pit, Frank had the crowd turn it into a hug pit.
Watching the band keep this energy level up for over two hours was just stunning. Frank’s back and forth banter with the crowd was hilarious. He had the crowd split and have to scream for various members of the band in order for their side to have a chance of winning a signed drum head. By show’s end Frank was out in the crowd dancing and singing with everyone while the band continued to pound away on stage. A night of music like this can really heal what is hurting you, and with everything that has gone on in the world this year, I think we could all use more nights like this one.
Article: Bryan Lasky