As the Parlotones took the stage, all but a couple of tables were stranded at the Old Rock House as folks migrated towards the stage, and stayed there until the end of the show. Based in Johannesburg, the Parlotones are no strangers to commercial success, having won more than a few handfuls of awards at the South Africa Music Awards and MTV Africa.
The Parlotones conquered new territory last night as they navigated their first concert in St. Louis, including a shout-out to Denise at the Eat-Rite Diner, who singer and guitarist Kahn Morbee said fed the band of five in under 10 minutes with food that was probably bad but tasted so good.
The band started its set with "I'll Be There," from its 2011 concert album, "Life Design." Beginning with Morbee's beckoning and almost solemn vocals and a piano, the song quickly expanded instrumentally, encompassing the entire stage set. Guitarist Paul Hodgson made it difficult for the audience to realize he was performing with an injury, as indicated by the boot on his left leg. "I'll Be There" was one of a couple slower songs on the Parlotones' set, and it made sense, as Morbee seems to be able to stand still for no more than a quarter of a minute at a time.
Rounding out the show at 18 songs, the Parlotones made the most of the night by playing quite a bit of everything from their discography, including songs from their new album, "Journey Through the Shadows" to 2005's "Radiocontrolledrobot," and "Stardust Galaxies." As much as it could be said that St. Louis welcomed the Parlotones to their first riverside concert, the Parlotones seemed to do the same. Not that everyone in the Old Rock House needed an introduction, as noted by frequent singing by members of the audience as well as the ever waving of a miniature South African flag that moved around as much as Morbee did on stage.
The Parlotones possessed an energy so fluid in motion during their set, but it's one that may also threaten to simply sputter out of power if halted or slowed. Thus, the band keeps the between-song banter short and sweet, with quips few and far between.
Once they gave themselves and the audience some musical context, the Parlotones gave much attention to their newest studio effort, "Journey Through the Shadows." On songs like "Honey," the band distanced itself a bit from the classic and at times tired rock 'n' roll conventions that they have polished so well. Instead, they opted for lighter, whammied guitars, less dominating drums, attuning them more to encouraging dancing than clapping.
With each member outfitted with some accents of red and black (for drummer Neil Pauw, it was red jeans and a sleeveless black dress shirt), it's clear that the Parlotones are a unit, with brothers Paul and Glenn Hodgson giving the band a literal sense of kinship. And while some of the Parlotones' songs may overlap in terms of sound and composition, it proves difficult to stop listening.
In a move marked by politeness rather than entitlement, Morbee introduced "Push Me to the Floor" as the band's last song -- unless it would be all right with the audience if they played a jokingly "forced encore," bringing the total set to 19 songs and a verdict that Midwesterners cannot turn down good South African manners.
Closing out their time on stage, the Parlotones played "Sing You to Sleep," an amplified lullaby of sorts. The tune highlighted Morbee's dynamic vocals, which seem to be at home in the higher vocal ranges, and along with the rest of the band, did not sound forced or worn, even at the end of the night.
I'll Be There
Save Your Best Bits
Sun Comes Out
Welcome to the Weekend
Soul and Body
Brave and Wild
The Stars Fall Down
We Just Want to be Loved
Should We Fight Back?
Suitcase for a Home
Push Me to the Floor
Sing You to Sleep