Parcels live in London: a dexterous show of live prowess

November 2, Islington Assembly Hall: The Berlin-based Aussies show exactly why their gigging reputation precedes them

“This is totally insane for us, a sensory overload,” says Parcels frontman Jules Crommelin. He’s addressing a London crowd that can’t help but throw itself right back into adoring the Berlin-based Aussies after two years away. Away from the stage, at least. The disco-funk quintet have kept busy even if it has been over two years since they performed to a live audience.

In fact, Parcels have been hard at work on ‘Day/Night’, a double album of orchestral scope. Last year they didn’t let the pandemic hinder their ambition of recording at Berlin’s famous Hansa studio for ‘Live Vol. 1’, and that live record followed their debut 2018 self-titled album. On top of that, the band teamed up with Daft Punk for their 2017 single collaboration ‘Overnight’. The track would become the French house duo’s final co-write/production credit.

Tonight sees the fruits of Parcels’ labour in perfectly ripe form. The Byron Bay natives’ live shows have long been celebrated but their comeback show in Islington exceeds expectations. It’s mind-blowing that the band members are in their twenties because their slick musicianship – particularly the pitch-perfect group harmonies and taut rhythm section – points to a more seasoned outfit with decades of experience.

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Photo by Lorne Thomson/Redferns

What’s most pleasing is the reception that songs already released from ‘Day/Night’ – namely ‘Free’ and ‘Comingback’ – receive. On the latter, tumbling drums, rattling acoustics and choral call-and-responses unleash a frenetic energy that has fans dancing in rapture. The song’s jangle-pop credentials are a detour from the band’s disco stomp, yet the crowd still struts its stuff like it’s Studio 54.

Reliance on vintage instruments proves to be a mistake when keyboardist/guitarist Patrick Hetherington suffers what appears to be a blown amp during ‘Comingback’. Fortunately he improvises well (first by dancing merrily, then by jumping to Louie Swain’s spare keyboard) and swiftly mops up the remaining bars.

Debut album favourites ‘Tieduprightnow’ and ‘Lightenup’ draw huge smiles from the band. It’s noticeably the case for Crommelin and Hetherington, who jut their stretched jaws to the sky for glorious group harmonies with Swain, drummer Anatole “Toto” Serret and the band’s bassist Noah Hill. Parcels’ natural cohesion and love for tonight’s jam session writ large is clear. It explains their preference for rattling through songs with little chat – just let the music play.

‘Somethinggreater’ serves as an epic, lounge funk penultimate closer, with Hill expertly taking lead vocals, and proves just how effortlessly these musicians can mould and manoeuvre. It’s another example of a song that outsizes itself when played at a gig. By the end there’s only one conclusion to draw. You simply have to see this band live.

Parcels played:

‘Light’

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‘Free’

‘Tieduprightnow’

‘Lightenup’

‘Overnight’

‘Comingback’

‘Theworstthing’

‘SHADOW’

‘LordHenry’

‘Famous’

‘What A Night’

‘Gamesofluck’

‘Hideout’

‘Somethinggreater’

‘Drop The Pressure’ (Mylo cover)

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