April 12, 2024
Arlo Parks Kicks Off Her First Headlining Tour at The Observatory
Freya Greenwood

By Freya Greenwood

Arlo Parks kicked off the first night of the My Soft Machine tour—her first headlining tour—at the Observatory North Park on Thursday, February 29th. Despite embarking on her first headlining tour only now, Arlo has been prominent in the indie music scene for years, opening for artists such as Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, and Clairo. The tour follows the release of her new album My Soft Machine, a deeply personal album focusing on mental health and love.

The night began with an upbeat set by indie-pop artist Chloe George, who impressed with her remarkable vocals. The Los Angeles-born singer/songwriter entered the stage, her bright pink hair matching her infectious personality. After opening with some original music, she went back to her roots of song covers, playing the iconic “Heart of Glass”. Subtle signs of it being her debut tour were discernible in occasional moments of nervousness, which I can only expect to improve as the tour continues. On only her first tour, I am excited for the many more to come.

When Arlo Parks strolled onto the stage, her calm, sweet presence shone through as she moved along to her band’s opening introduction. She opened her show with “Weightless”, an upbeat pop song from My Soft Machine. By the second song, the crowd began to groove and clap along, setting the energetic tone that persisted throughout the entire performance. Within the first few songs, Arlo jumped off the stage coming to stand in the crowd to sing with everyone. With her calming vocals and serene presence, she transformed the concert into an ideal atmosphere, welcoming even those unfamiliar with live music. The audience enthusiastically joined in, her straightforward choruses making it easy for the most casual of listeners to catch on. 

The band members seldom stayed out of the limelight, with guitarist Dan Diodato, claiming the spotlight for a guitar solo in “I’m Sorry”.  Additionally, bassist Sam Harding and drummer James Fernandez stood out as they seized opportunities to flaunt their talents. At the same time, Arlo energetically danced in front of each band member as they showed off their talents, showcasing the groups obvious connection.

Arlo’s concert took the audience through a rollercoaster of energy, as she slowed down the previous upbeat energy for a more laid-back atmosphere. She took time to describe the meaning behind her songs and sung with an overwhelming passion, illustrating how important her music and lyrics are to her. She started the next phase of the set with a favorite of mine, “Black Dog”, a song that I quickly resonated with upon hearing it due to its rawness. The song, as she shared with the audience, details Arlo witnessing a friend’s battle with depression and the sense of helplessness that comes with being unsure of how to support her.

The emotional journey continued as Arlo wrapped up the show with three wildly diverse songs. She began with “Hope,” a song featuring a jazzy piano and drums, that despite its deep lyrical content centered around mental health, created the ambiance of a jazz club. Arlo transitioned seamlessly into “Devotion,” a passionate 90s rock-inspired love anthem featuring electrifying guitar breaks in each chorus, which showcased her brilliant shredding skills. Wrapping up the evening on a high note, she treated us to the upbeat “Softly,” leaving us with a sweet and uplifting conclusion to an unforgettable performance and evening.

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