In her penultimate show of the Australia and New Zealand leg of her ‘Collapsed in Sunbeams’ tour, Arlo Parks brought flowers and vigour to a sold-out show at Sydney’s much-loved Enmore Theatre. Performing on a stage decorated with plants and hued backgrounds, Parks’ set of 14 songs was performed to a hyped-up crowd who sang, screamed, and swayed to the British 22-year-old’s velvety vocals.
The concert’s vibrant energy starkly contrasted with the far more muted studio versions of her songs. Recorded, they invoke a distinctive sense of melancholy, as Parks skilfully layers sorrowful lyrics over gentle ‘90s inspired R&B beats. However, in using this composition blueprint, the boundaries between songs tend to blur, each laid-back track seamlessly transitioning into the next. Whilst this pleasant monotony makes for great coffee-shop listening, it’s not the sort of music that lends itself to a breathtaking live performance.
Perhaps as a result of this, these mournful tunes have been given a new flavour for this tour, revamped and energised by Parks’ 4-piece band. Loud drums, funky bass lines, additional horns, and unexpected instrumental solos brought new life to these otherwise gloomy melodies, encouraging the audience to get up and dance to Parks’ quietly devastating lyrics. Special mention must be given to Billy the bassist, who skillfully awed the audience with his highly impressive and unexpected bass solos.
Although the concert attracted a variety of age demographics, Parks is by far most popular with Generation Z. Fusing poetry and lyricism, her lyrics capture the confused angst felt by much of this age bracket, as Parks explores topics such as queerness, mental health, identity, and unrequited love.
As invigorating as the concert was, it also had some sombre moments. Audience members shed tears during Parks’ live rendition of “Black Dog”. With lyrics like “I would do anything to get you out your room”, the song explores mental illness from the perspective of a helpless outsider desperately trying to cure a loved one, an all-too-familiar tale for friends and family of those afflicted.
The concert finished with an encore of Park’s most recent release “Softly”, which, contrary to the title, was anything but a soft finish. The audience jumped up and down with commendable vigour as Parks transformed the otherwise somnolent tune into the triumphant conclusion of a great performance.