Gig Review: Tame Impala

Friday 16th December @ Enmore Theatre

Warning: The following review features the word ‘psychedelic’ an absolute fuckload.

Here is a list of recent accolades that Tame Impala have hauled in. ‘Lonerism’ ranked No. 1 albums of 2012 by NME magazine (The first Australian album to top the album of the year list from the British music press giant in all 35 years). ‘Lonerism’ ranked No. 1 in Fasterlouder’s albums of 2012 list.’Lonerism’ awarded the J Award for Album of the Year, the 2nd time (2 from 2) for Tame Impala. Praise has been heralded from a diverse range of artists including Mark Ronson, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Flying Lotus and (shudder) Tyler, The Creator. ‘Lonerism’ received a glowing 5 star review in The Guardian, and an incredibly rare 9.0 review from music opinion dominator Pitchfork.com. But who cares about some douche bag on the internet’s opinion (oh, the irony)? It’s better to see this shit live, and form my own fucking opinion.

The first band to grace The Enmore’s stage is The Growl. Hailing from Tame Impala’s hometown of Perth, they put on the slacker version of psychedelic music. It’s raw stuff, total shoot-from-the-hip swamp rock, dirty and seething, not to mention cool as fuck. Despite lukewarm responses from the audience, The Growl seemed totally at home on the stage, strutting about like chickens in a coop. I was in total admiration of their slick, slick sound, that buzzed with stoner warmth and a slow, menacing growl. Geez, that must be why their called The Growl! Fucking whatever, they have a double bass in the band, and two drummers. What could be more awesome? The band have had some significant underground radio play with a few of their singles, so when the band launched into songs like ‘3,6,9’ and ‘The Sharp End of a Trowel’, it excited a bit more of a shout and cry than previous tracks. The closer of ‘Cleaver Leaver’ left wanting more, but overall a pretty great performance for the up-and-comers. I’m sure the performance ensured a few extra copies of their forthcoming album will be sold.

It didn’t take long for Kevin Parker and Co. to grace the stage after The Growl left. A mere half hour later, the smooth psychedelic sounds of Tame Impala were rocking through everyone’s ears. It was sublime. Not since the 60’s has such genuine psychedelic music graced a stage. And never has it sounded so young and fresh! Kevin Parker is not only a lover of the music he plays, but an entrepreneur. He blasts psychedelic in his earphones, then in turn, plugs in his guitar and turns the genre on it’s head. The first chance we really get to hear his total brilliance is on ‘Solitude is Bliss‘ from their first album ‘Innerspeaker. The cheerful take on loneliness is a bit of a theme with all of Tame Impala’s work, and the shifting, sonic attitude is shouted through the speakers. The assault of the song literally shakes the building, and the mosh below me is a steaming turmoil that is the envy of most punk shows. The next big hit to rake in the waves of crowd gratitude is ‘Elephant‘, the storming first single from ‘Lonerism’. It really is a substantial piece of work, the main riff a dead-on impression of an elephant stomping through a jungle. Headbanging was in abundance. The only relief was a small, alternate break in the song, in which Jay Watson (drummer) decided he would rip through a drum solo. Next up on the crowd-goes-fucking-mental list of songs is current hit, ‘It Feels Like We Only Going Backwards’. The beautifully reminiscing tune is heartbreaking and gorgeously vulnerable. It also has this year’s best video clip. But that’s besides the point. It was totally amazeballs. If this medley of hits weren’t ‘classic’ psychedelic enough, then that was all rectified with another standout within one of Tame Impala’s oldest songs ‘Desire Be, Desire Go’. The song wavers between quiet and freak out, trampling a thin line between barraging force and hushed genius, the vocals delivered in a classic, drawn out fashion. It was a picture perfect reason of why everyone can’t get enough of Tame Impala.

All these were set highlights in their own right, but undoubtedly the stand out moment of the night came with Tame Impala’s encore of an extended version of their breakout hit ‘Half Full Glass of Wine‘. It literally had the entire crowd jumping on their feet, jamming to the slickest psychedelic grooves known to man. It seemed fitting that the song that introduced the world to Kevin Parker’s genius. But I truly cannot emphasise how insane this song was. It went for at least 15 minutes, starting with the explosive intro of fast riffing, turned to heroin-gaged brilliance, tinged with slime and gore. Then it turned to a faded 3 note progression on Kevin Parker’s part, and he held that for a long fucking time. The anticipation reached an all time height, yet the band still didn’t let up. Not until a riot seemed imminent did the band finally converge back into the main song, and the audience detonated in delight. A song of revenge and lust could not be executed more perfectly.

Tame Impala have impressed me beyond any reasonable doubt. The visuals (of which there were many), the light show (which was top notch), the banter and stage antics (reserved, but playful, as you would expect an introverted 25 year old who created two albums about the trivialisations of loneliness to act) and the music was hands down some of the greatest noise to reach my ears. The experience of a Tame Impala concert is astounding, beautiful, mind blowing and insanely psychedelic. It’s something you need to do before you die, or become so jaded and cynical you can’t properly enjoy a concert.

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2 thoughts on “Gig Review: Tame Impala

  1. Great review Ryan, couldn’t agree more. They’re on top of their game. Just one thing, jay Watson was on keys, it was julien barbagallo on drums.

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