Arlo Parks at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Fresh off her first ever North American tour, British singer-songwriter Arlo Parks took to the stage at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire for the beginning of the European iteration. The elation at being able to perform in the space where she had previously watched the likes of Loyle Carner – someone who inspired her to take the leap into the industry – was evident from the very beginning. An overwhelming sense of gratitude echoed throughout the evening in her speeches between songs.
The staging of the concert created a very intimate setting, with rugs, low lights and flowers decorating the set. There was a strong sense of relaxing with someone in their living room, with a synthetic sunset in the background of the stage. It came as no surprise that Parks’s entrance with her band was met with an uproar of applause from her fans that recalled welcoming a long-lost friend home for the first time in years.
She opened with Hurt and Green Eyes, two tracks that got the crowd on their feet, dancing but also singing along with every word. The array of musicians who flocked around the singer added to the living room jam vibe that it was clear Parks had in mind. As for appearances, it was refreshing to see a young and successful individual dress for comfort rather than to impress, normalising a look less akin to what music lovers are used to seeing on stage.
Although some of her material lacks musical originality, Parks more than makes up for it with her lyrics. An ability to string together art in her words is the very thing that makes every one of her songs unique, no doubt a result of her skills as a poet. It was a delight to be treated to one such poem in the middle of the set.
On first glance, it would seem much of her music is aimed at a younger demographic, with many works recalling the difficulties of school and friendships, but on a deeper level, with examples such as Black Dog and Portra 400, it is clear there is something in the lyrics for everyone, especially those who struggle with mental health. This was made clear when she asked the audience to repeat the mantra: I am loved, I am lucky, I am brave, I am in control.
This was a performance from a young woman with a lot of potential, and it was amazing to see Arlo Parks fulfilling her teenage dreams. Whatever she has in store next for her fans, their job is to wait with eager anticipation. And for those who are struggling with their mental health, as she said: you are stronger than you think.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Arlo Parks’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Black Dog here: