LIVE: Arlo Parks @ Gorilla, Manchester
Arlo Parks is a future legend. When people ask me in thirty or forty years what some of the great music of my time was, I will start by saying Arlo Parks. I was initially intrigued by Parks from simply seeing her name on my Editor’s list of upcoming review opportunities. It’s a powerful name and, to me, paints ideas of some eccentric pop artist from another era, mystical, cool as anything, and empowered in the arts of emotional communication. Now that might just be a stretch of my overactive imagination, but when it comes to art, Arlo Parks knows what she’s doing.
Parks painted her concert with a sonic chiaroscuro that toyed gracefully with every little heart string in the crowd; gleeful highs and pensive, mellow lows spread generously across the room for everyone to marvel at. The music was moody, sensual and enveloping, I haven’t seen many artists curate the peaks and troughs of a concert setlist so well. But all this art and yet no artifice (pardon the pun) just a young, successful singer, loving every minute of sharing their passion with their fans, with starry eyed adoration from both sides of the stage.
Parks was visually moved by the fan presence and reaction, as was I, the atmosphere was full of love and good vibes, everyone knew the words and felt enveloped (yes I have to use this word again) by Parks’ glowing sense of love and passion. A couple stood next to me told me how they had bonded, connected over a shared love of her music, and it showed as they swayed, hypnotised in love, in each others arms to Parks’ wonderful voice. Beside me were a group of friends who were utterly made up when Parks reached out to them, in love of them singing out every single word to her, but Parks seemed just as happy, surprised even, that they were even capable of it. It was all love, all positive and the crowd was cultic in their cheery waving and singing, it was a charismatic congregation and Arlo Parks was delivering a sermon. I apologise for the extensive use of metaphorical imagery here, but something about this concert wasn’t just musical. If you love her, like her or have even just heard some of Park’s music on the radio, the concerts will simply take it to a higher level. I am, for one, an instant convert, and can attest to the power of Parks’ music live, and I don’t even have an incentive.
Parks’ backing band supported her gracefully, and were talented individuals, clearly committed to faithfully delivering the cleverly produced vibe of Parks’ music in a live setting. This was done 100% effectively; not only did they play probably perfectly, but they clearly loved being up there with her. It was joyful to see them interact musically and as a performing group. After the show I managed to catch some of the band having a drink and asked them what it was like to work with Parks, I framed up a fairly journalisty question with a wide scope, hoping for a very specific answer. From the guitarist, they simply said “beautiful”.
This is some of the best music of the decade so far, Arlo Parks represents the top of the top, and it doesn’t look like she’ll be moving from that place for quite some time. I might just add that Parks’ shirt was pretty groovy too. To sum up, the crowd was her canvas, her music a box of paints, and Arlo Parks was painting.
You can catch Arlo Parks on her tour around the UK & Ireland below and find tickets here.
31 - Academy 2, Dublin
3 - O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London
4 - O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London
8 - O2 Academy, Bristol
9 - Academy 2, Manchester
10 - Saint Luke's, Glasgow
11 - Liquid Room, Edinburgh