The stage was set. The floor was full. The atmosphere was calm, but at the same time buzzing as the crowd awaited the arrival of the main event – Arlo Parks – the 19-year-old singer and poet from London.
Walking up the stairs to the second floor of Nottingham’s Bodega, it was clear what type of gig this would be. There was to be no pushing and shoving into mosh pits, no drinks thrown containing unusual liquids and there would actually be space to breathe. The fans of all different ages and demographics gathered simply to enjoy the music, and I was definitely here for that.
The evening kicked off with an impressive performance from Matilda Mann, perfectly setting the vibe for the rest of the night. Her angelic vocals and intricate song lyrics were a true representation of the pure talent of the young 19-year-old, who is also from London. The musician came armed with her guitar and gave renditions of some of her best songs, including ‘The Fucking Best’ and ‘The Loch Ness Monster’, the latter of which she joked had a hidden meaning that her audience would never be able to guess. The vocals and styles of Matilda Mann and Arlo Parks couldn’t have been more well-matched.
After waiting what seemed like hours but what was actually only 30 minutes, Arlo Parks was welcomed to a roaring reception from her sold-out audience. Seeming overwhelmed but perfectly put together at the same time, she went straight into performing one of her most popular songs, ‘Cola’, which has nearly five million streams on Spotify. Much to the delight of the fans, Arlo also performed another one of her most popular records, ‘Eugene’, later on in the night.
Much like many other gigs, the best parts of Arlo’s set were moments I didn’t see coming. Standing in the front row at finger-tips distance away from the stage, I witnessed the raw emotion and heart that went into Parks’ performance of ‘Angel’s Song’. Admittedly, I hadn’t heard this song before seeing it live, yet, the effect it had on me and others in the crowd was as if I had heard it many times before. It was extremely sad but extremely beautiful and effectively, it was a love song to those going through a rough time.
Arlo is a poet as much as she is an artist, which is probably why writing lyrics comes so naturally to her. Halfway through the concert, she read out a poem which she had written whilst walking through the streets of Nottingham earlier that day, connecting with her audience on a completely different level. She gave the hand-written poem to a deserving fan who probably knew the lyrics to her songs better than Arlo herself.
I see big things coming for Arlo Parks. Her music is the type that can easily be universally enjoyed by lovers of all genres, without lacking on meaningful lyrics and relatability. Having only left school last year, it’s unbelievable how far this woman has already come in her career; this may be her first headline tour, but she has already supported musicians in the likes of Jordan Rakei and Loyle Carner. The only way is up for this Londoner.
Words and photos: Jessica Goddard