Anton Newcombe associate Canadian songstress TESS PARKS returns to London
There’s an early May chill in the air down by the canal in Camden as those in the know pour into the legendary waterside venue, which is bathed in a warming red glow. The room is packed tight, strangers are chatting to each other and there’s a general feeling of love floating in the air. A reverent hush descends as Tess Parks’ band takes to the stage and strike the opening chords of ‘Talking About The Weather’, playing an extended intro until Tess Parks stalks onto the stage with roses in hand. Then she sings. Her voice is like thick, melted dark chocolate, it hangs in the air and oozes around the room, occupying all the available space left by the band, who are gloriously understated tonight. The pace of the set is gently building through ‘Cocaine Cat’, ‘Life Is But A Dream; and the excellent ‘German Tangerine’, we are eight songs in before Tess talks to the crowd, “Everybody’s Mom is here tonight, except mine, we love you all” before pulling the individual petals from a white rose and throwing them into the air as the band launch into ‘Mama’. There’s a look, an aura, a feeling that surrounds Tess Parks tonight that bring to mind John William Waterhouse’s painting The Lady of Shalott, “A cloudwhite crown of pearl she dight, All raimented in snowy white” as Tennyson put it in his poem of the same title. ‘I Live’ and ‘Voyage De L’ame’ preceed the absolute lo-fi joy that is ‘Please Never Die’ never has asking the impossible sounded to simple, it’s also the first time tonight that the other side of Tess Parks’ voice makes an appearance, the edgier, sharper, beautiful rasp, the yang to the smooth as silk breathy ying. “Are you happy with your life? I fucking hope so, you deserve to be,” demands Tess before final song ‘Right On’ after which there’s a simple “I think we are done,” and the band leave the stage. Less than a minute later Tess and the band are back on stage, “It’s just something we seem to do, I don’t know why” she says, referring to the encore, I agree, play your best set, if the crowd want more give them something extra, Tess and the band gave us something extra. Dedicating ‘Love Around’ with genuine tears to “All those that have been with me since 2008, you know who you are” and ending with an extended ‘Grunewald’ that seemed to sit in your gut and grow inside you, amazing musicianship.
This wasn’t a gig to kick start your bank holiday weekend, this was akin to that first beer/cuppa/smoke on a Friday after work, the sigh that follows which relieves all the tension and stress from the week, only it lasted an hour. Lovely.