Photography: Jenn Cliff-Wilcock / @lens_of_a_wool
Arts Club 3/8/21

On entering Seel Street’s beloved Arts Club, there is a certain magic pervading the air. The stage is adorned with vibrant sunflowers, as if one has entered some secret garden plucked straight from a fairy tale. Tonight, the enchanting ARLO PARKS takes to the stage, treating Liverpool to her unique mixture of lo-fi indie pop and poetry. Dressed in a baggy vintage shirt and visibly humbled by the warm welcome she is met with, the 21-year-old Londoner begins her set with the glistening Green Eyes. The hushed tones of her soothing voice offer an immediate sense of comfort and calmness to the crowd.

Under the royal blue hues of stage lights, Parks is accompanied by a full five-piece band, enhancing her performance. Tonight’s set also showcases the eclecticism of her influences, from the Portishead-inspired Portra 400 to the echoes of Solange in her luscious vocals on Eugene.

Parks expertly taps into the universal human experience, exploring themes of mental health, sexuality, and difficult relationships. Caroline, an observation of a couple fighting, receives an affectionate response, as the audience seem to know just about every word. Beaming with happiness, Parks thanks her fans, clearly moved by this display of adoration. Whilst the emotional Black Dog, written for a friend struggling with depression, provokes a particularly poignant reaction. Gently strummed guitars provide the melody for this gorgeous track as Parks sings “I would do anything to get you out your room.”

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Her honest approach to songwriting has clearly touched the hearts of the fans that are gathered to see her today. Weaving personal stories among metaphorical lyricism proves to be one of her greatest strengths. Towards the end of her set, Parks recites the poem which lends its title to her album, Collapsed in Sunbeams. Having released the album in January this year, tonight’s show gives Parks an opportunity to debut many of its tracks to a room full of people. And boy does she revel in it, as audience members attentively latch onto her words.

The odd rarity makes its way into the setlist, such as 2019’s Romantic Garbage from the debut EP Super Sad Generation which catapulted the young songstress to stardom. The danceable beat of Hurt along with the funk-infused Too Good provide a welcome contrast from some of the more sombre songs. It’s during these tracks that one can see the pure joy Parks is feeling in the moment, improvising her own little dance on stage.

After a brief break and overwhelming chants for “one more song”, Parks returns to the stage with her band, closing the set with the jazzy piano-led number Hope. “You’re not alone” she sings in unison with the plethora of fans who have gathered at Arts Club today.

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