If you’ve never been to Detroit, the Arkells have. And when they played Toronto Urban Roots Fest on July 5, they brought enough of Motor Town for everyone to share.
Closing out the regular portion of their TURF set with the Detroit-referencing “Where U Goin” from their 2011 LP Michigan Left, the Arkells then dove into a special collection of hits curated from Motown’s catalogue.
Known to inject a cover or two into their sets, the Arkells switched into shirt and tie and suit attire for the special presentation, going on to play The Four Tops’ “It’s the Same Old Song,” The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love,” The Miracles’ “The Tracks of My Tears,” Temptations tracks “Aint Too Proud To Beg,” “Get Ready” and “My Girl,” Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” and Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.”
The band contracted some help from super cover band Dwayne Gretzky to make it all happen; friends Tyler Kyte, Nick Rose, and Edwin Sheard played the less Arkells-like saxophone and tambourine parts as well as additional guitar and backing vocals.
The regular portion of the set opened with “Whistleblower” and consisted of other singles like their Hamilton hometown banger “Oh, The Boss Is Coming!,” and “John Lennon,” as well as fan favourites like “Deadlines” and “Kiss Cam.”