Arlo Parks Devotion Proves She’s Just Too Good At Hammersmith Apollo 

Tonight was not just a homecoming of a local artist to an iconic stage but it was the release of so much energy that’s built up over the last three years where her audience was able to sing these vulnerable anthems proudly with their chest out, owning their own, and collective trauma.

Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo

Arlo Parks (Kalpesh Patel)
Arlo Parks (Kalpesh Patel)

“Growing up very close to here, this place was like the biggest venue in the world I have no words.” The sold out Apollo crowd cheer and applaud as the softly spoken singer pauses to reflect. A deep breath, she takes it all in. For someone whose medium of work is prose, being lost for words is a rarity.

Born in 2000, and raised in Hammersmith, Arlo Parks was thrust into the public consciousness in 2020 when her breakout single Eugene was released in February. Unfortunately, what should have been a year that she was introduced to bigger audiences at bigger venues, was also the year that those venues closed their doors and those audiences, whilst were in their homes, listening but not being able to see her live.

Beginning with Bruiseless, the opener to her sophomore record My Soft Machine, which dropped in May of this year, the 2021 Mercury Prize winner begins with these powerful lyrics:

“I wish I was bruiseless
Almost everyone that I love has been abused, and I am included
I feel so much guilt that I couldn’t guard more people from harm”

Arlo puts great detail into the stories that she tells and bares her soul, at times being quite vulnerable. And at the Apollo, it seemed like a cathartic evening for both Parks and the crowd.

Having written very observant short stories with strong character details since she was 7 or 8, the two time Grammy nominated artist has a knack of giving the key details to really paint the picture and transport you right into what she’s describing. She begins Weightless next, with the lyrics “Cardamom and jade as your eyes streamed On the night you showed your volcanic side.”

On Caroline she continues with her descriptive and poetic style. “Strawberry cheeks flushed with defeated rage, Ripped the hem of her skirt as she ran, Agony and hints of sage.” It’s like someone with a photographic memory, recalling the sights, sounds, smells of each moment they’re describing. One of the first poignant moments of the night where the whole crowd sings back the chorus of “I swear to God I tried.”

Her presence on stage was much more free than the reserved persona lets on. She seemed unrestrained, feeding off the audience’s energy. Both were happy to be in each others’ presence. Impurities and I’m Sorry followed, the latter has a different texture to the majority of the show. It’s lo-fi with minimal melody stripped back to largely a breakbeat with a creeping bassline and ad-libbed guitar which works, due to the quality of the musicians in her band.

The band is tight. Bass, Guitar, Drums and keys. Parks gives them their flowers introducing them before Eugene comes around halfway through our set, it’s met – like most of the songs tonight – with the thousands in attendance singing every word. The song finishes with a fantastic 45 second guitar solo from the guitarist.

The Phoebe Bridgers collaboration Pegasus follows, a track that was produced by BROCKHAMPTON’s Romil Hemnani. In a press release when she released the track, she speaks about how the song is experiencing the warmth and lightness of good love for the first time and finding a real home in another human being. The playfulness in the lyric: “I spun ’round and screamed, I feel elated when you hold me. Then you got shy and beamed, I think it’s special that you told me,” further emphasising the evocative nature of Park’s writing.

One of the most popular songs from her 2021 debut album Collapsed In Sunbeams, is Too Good, which gets everyone out of their seats in the Circle to dance and fill the room with the chorus “why do we make the simplest things so hard?”

“This is a song about navigating difficult mental spacesas the opening chords to Black Dog are strummed; a song with clear symbolism of mental health, more specifically depression. To my left, two twenty-somethings embrace as they sing along to the chorus. These words and this show really meant something to a lot of people and the vulnerability that Arlo has been able to portray has really resonated with the audience.

When the song Hope came out in January 2021 the then 20-year-old was speaking to a whole generation of anxious young people who either didn’t understand life or didn’t understand themselves. The confusion and apprehension of adolescence, heightened, whilst being locked down. So it’s no surprise that this is one of the loudest and passionate responses by the crowd.

She picks up a guitar herself and plays Sophie, a single from 2019 and follows with the grunge-inspired Devotion; one of her favourite songs from the latest record. “I wanted to pay homage to ’90s rock music and the notion of loving so hard it almost destroys you,”  and from the passion of playing the song non stage, you can see how much it means to her. Finally after a brief departure from the stage, the Brit Award winner completes her hour and 20 minute set with Softly, a single released last year describing the fragility of love when you’re still in love with someone despite the seemingly inevitable breakdown of a relationship.

A triumphant night in West London, from one of the UK’s most talented wordsmiths. Arlo Parks may have grown in popularity when we were all stuck inside, but she showed tonight that in person, she can put on a fantastic show.

  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo
  • Arlo Parks @ Hammersmith Apollo

Review of Arlo Parks at London’s Hammersmith Apollo on 28th September 2023 by Chris Lambert. Photography by Kalpesh Patel.

King Princess Finds Safety At Koko

Fozzy (Scott Legato)

FOZZY Return To London With O2 Forum Show Bringing Along Swerve Strickland & Flash Garments

FOZZY have announced their hugely anticipated return to the UK capital with a date at London’s O2 Forum Kentish Town....
China Bears (Rob Blackham/Blackham Images)

China Bears Share Total Communication Breakdown

Rising indie four-piece China Bears have released their vibrant new single Total Communication Breakdown. The lively...
Split Dogs (Press)

Bristol Punk Outfit Split Dogs Evoke British Seaside Nostalgia With And What? Video

Known for their signature gut-punching, fast-paced sound, Bristol punk rock ‘n' rollers Split Dogs hit the scene hard...
The Cadillac Three @ Tramshed, Cardiff (Sam Holt)

Southern Rockers The Cadillac Three Play Two Capitals In Two Days

"We’re from Nashville Tennessee, that’s a long way from here", vocalist Jaren Johnston of The Cadillac Three tells the...
Warren Zeiders (David McClister)

Warren Zeiders Shares Heartbreaker

Hershey, Pennsylvania-hailing Country star Warren Zeiders has released his first track of 2024, Heartbreaker. Written...
Darren Kiely (David McLister)

Darren Kiely Drops Sophomore EP From The Dark + New Video For Ocean

Irish prodigy Darren Kiely has released his sophomore EP, From The Dark. Produced by David Baron and featuring...
Twinnie - CMT Next Women of Country @ Islington Academy (Kalpesh Patel)

Twinnie Ends Her Sad Girl Era With New EP Blue Hour

International Nashville-based British country crossover artist Twinnie is bringing the curtain down on her...
The Script (Jordan Rossi)

The Script Return With New Album Satellites And Huge Tour

Irish pop-rock quartet The Script have announced their return with the release of their seventh studio LP album...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share Thing