LIVE REVIEW: Tess Parks @ The Cluny 2, Newcastle (26.10.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Off the back of the release of her latest album, And Those Who Were Seen Dancing, celebrating its six-month anniversary, Tess Parks has taken her sound on an extensive tour across Europe. She clearly places a value on intimacy, playing small venues where she is entwined with the crowd, so The Cluny 2 fit the bill for this perfectly.

As is normally the case in The Cluny, there was a rich sense of communality, warmth and inclusion. The clientele was diverse; a testament to her style, which has an achingly nostalgic feel to it, clearly aiming at reviving a 70s aesthetic and sound, and yet, in both its commitment to youthful romance and the innovative, at times thunderous, instrumental work of her band, remains relevant and fresh.

The image which immediately sprung to mind watching her perform was of Hope Sandoval; the moody, saturnine glare, angsty stillness and fixity of gaze. The sound, too, was deeply resonant of Mazzy Star’s, with raspy, reverb-drenched vocals silkily overlaying simple chord progressions and melodious piano arrangements. However, to typecast Parks like this would be to neglect her obvious dedication to authenticity and individuality. As her figurine stillness melted between songs, a warm humour sparkled and a strong connection was forged between artist and audience. She handed bouquets of flowers out to the crowd to distribute, nodding to the Morrissey-esque romanticism she evidently embraces, but also knitting the crowd closer, both to each other and to her and the band. One felt almost entranced by the whiskey-soaked voice and homogenous tempo throughout the songs, although this sense of entrancement was cultivated occasionally at the expense of lyrical clarity and rhythmic diversity.

However, the strong identity she has carved out for herself, the skill and talent of the band – particularly the nimble lead guitarist, and the simple joy of entertaining will doubtless make her tour a great success.

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