“This is completely insane for us, a sensory overload,” says Parcels frontman Jules Crommelin. He addresses a London audience that can not help but throw themselves back to adore the Berlin-based Aussies after two years away. At least away from the stage – even though it’s over two years since the disco-funk quintet performed for a live audience, the band has still kept busy.
In fact, Parcels has worked hard on ‘Day / Night’, a double album with orchestral scope. Last year, they did not let the pandemic hinder their ambition to record in Berlin’s famous Hansa studio for ‘Live Vol. 1 ‘, and the live album followed their debut 2018 self-titled album. On top of that, the band teamed up with Daft Punk for their 2017 single collaboration ‘Overnight’ – and the number would be the French house duo’s last co-write / production credit.
Tonight sees the fruits of Parcels’ work in perfectly ripe form. The Byron Bay natives’ live shows have long been celebrated, but their comeback show in Islington exceeds expectations. It’s incredible that the band members are in their twenties because their sleek musicianship – especially the pitch-perfect group harmonies and tight rhythm section – points to a more seasoned outfit with decades of experience.
The most gratifying thing is the reception that songs that have already been released from ‘Day / Night’ – namely ‘Free’ and ‘Comingback’ – get. On the latter, tumbling drums, rattling acoustics and chorus-call-and-response unleash a hectic energy that makes fans dance delighted. The song’s jangle-pop credentials are a detour from the band’s disco tramp, but the audience is still strutting about their stuff as if it were Studio 54.
Confidence in vintage instruments turns out to be a mistake when keyboardist / guitarist Patrick Hetherington suffers from what appears to be a blown amplifier during ‘Comingback’. Luckily, he improvises well (first by dancing merrily, then by jumping to Louie Swain’s extra keyboard) and quickly wipes up the remaining beats.
Debut album favorites ‘Tieduprightnow’ and ‘Lightenup’ attract big smiles from the band. This is clearly the case for Crommelin and Hetherington, who are sticking their jaws at the sky for glorious group harmonies with Swain, drummer Anatole “Toto” Serret and the band’s bassist Noah Hill. Packers’ natural cohesion and love of tonight’s jam session writing is evident. That explains their preference for rattling through songs with a little talk – just let the music play.
‘Somethinggreater’ acts as an epic, lounge-funk penultimate closer to where Hill is an expert in lead vocals and proves how effortlessly these musicians can shape and maneuver. It is yet another example of a song that surpasses itself when played for a concert, and in the end there is only one conclusion to draw. You simply have to watch this band live.
‘What an evening’
‘Drop The Pressure’ (Mylo cover)