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Live / stage review

MIF Debuts Arlo Parks' New Material

Arlo Parks' Manchester International Festival show marked an emotional return to live music after the long hiatus.

Arlo Parks at Manchester International Festival 2021 - credit Priti Shikotra

Arlo Parks performing at Manchester International Festival 2021

Priti Shikotra

When Arlo Parks kicked off MIF’s run of gigs at Manchester Central on Thursday 8 July, it was clearly an emotional evening for all involved after such a long hiatus from live music. A quietly confident Parks spoke honestly about the difficulties of lockdown and of her
gratitude for her life and her health. The socially distanced audience were receptive and appreciative and were among some of the first people to hear some of her new songs live.

The array of live musicians was key to the spectacle. Proceedings started with popular single 'Hurt', which flooded the venue with luscious sax and Arlo’s sweet vocals. It was the horn section that excelled on the poignant 'Caroline', and also on the much loved 'Super Sad Generation'. 'Romantic Garbage', with its mellow beat, sounded enchanting on such a large scale, and was a highlight for me.

An interlude of poetry added a personal touch, and Park’s flawless, beautiful vocals were showcased in her solo, 'Angel'.

RNCM’s string section took to the stage in the latter part of the gig to add a touch of the sublime.

It was altogether a dreamy gig, with a sumptuous, shrine-like stage, impeccable musicianship and the sweet return of live music.

Quite rightly, an impressed audience demanded an encore for which Parks responded with 'Hope' - a fitting song to close on after such a period of isolation for us all.

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