Live Review: Arlo Parks // Shepherd’s Bush Empire // 4.11.21

One by one, band members walk on stage: beginning a chorus of synth, bass and guitar as Ms. Arlo Parks waits in the wings.

The stage is littered with short fir trees, and a low cloud of smoke covers the floor as the band escalate into shoegaze. The whole thing feels very Twin Peaks which is referenced in the first song that the band slide into with ease; “Charlie melts into his mattress, watching Twin Peaks, on his ones”, chimes Arlo in her signature soothing tone.

The audience hangs on her every word as she rolls through the excellent catalogue that she’s cultivated. Parks occasionally gets lost in the moment, so engrossed in the power and movement of her music, truly feeling the emotions being conveyed, even throughout instrumental sections, through which she grooves and jives. Her presence on stage is more robust than her light voice would have you believe. Stopping only briefly between songs, she explains the significance of them, the significance of the evening and the significance of her bandmates whom she takes great pride in.

Crowd pleasers come thick and fast with ‘Portra 400’, ‘Too Good’ and ‘Caroline’ in the first half. The chorus of the latter is handed over to the crowd, who do a stellar job of putting the widest smile upon Parks’ face. She exudes pride as she points towards her parents in the lower balcony, stage right, sitting in the seats where they all sat together for her first ever concert, at this very venue.

The lights dim, she’s left alone on stage, fumbling through a book of her poetry as she finds “Collapsed in Sunbeams” the namesake of her Mercury Award Winning album. Her spoken word is just as tantalising as her sung, you could hear a pin drop between her breath as she guides us to its end, “you shouldn’t be afraid to cry in front of me, I promise.”, no doubt a tear in the eye of many in attendance.

As the concert comes to an end, Parks thanks the crowd again, and departs the stage. An ovation that commences as Arlo makes her exit, lasts the for the minute or so that she is off stage and continues for at least another two once she has reappeared. Her face blush with pride and a smile so wide, it’s a surprise that the artist doesn’t miss a note as she encores with ‘Hope’. The ending of which sparks another huge ovation as confetti falls from the ceiling. A homecoming gig like no other.

feature image: Chris Almeida

Author avatar
Charlie Robinson

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