Tame Impala - Live At O2 Academy, Brixton

Australia’s most exciting export since Steve Irwin

When a young band makes the leap up to venues the size of the O2 Academy, Brixton, there’s always a disquieting feeling the place might swallow them up and they will end up sounding a little tame (pun utterly intended). But there is certainly no such concern for tonight’s sell-out crowd, all gathered to witness Australia’s most exciting export since Steve Irwin. In fact, it wouldn’t matter which venue Tame Impala played, their sound is so huge it’s on another planet.

The band’s synth-soaked space rock has been swelling in acclaim since the release of their second album ‘Lonerism’, basking in the praises of both critics and fans alike, and their performance tonight cements them as one of the most innovative and exciting groups around.

They open with drifty cosmic intro ‘Be Above It’ lulling in a hazy half-dream of looping vocals and tribal drums, before launching into the colossal ‘Solitude is Bliss’. The crowd go insane and from that moment on Tame have them eating out of their hands. The first half of the show is built up mainly of tracks from the band’s storming 2010 debut album ‘Innerspeaker’, many of which are delightfully blended together with jammy little interludes, at times verging on dance music. Stand-out tracks from the new release are certainly ‘Music to Walk Home By’ and the sorrow tinged ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’. These tracks sparkle with groove and maturity, but to look at the band you’d think a couple of the boys were barely old enough to buy fags! As the packed crowd leap and sway to the storming ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ and foot-stomping anthem ‘Elephant’, it’s easy to see why the thirsty masses are lapping up Tame’s psychedelic rock milk.

One of the most beautiful aspects of the band is the way they give their music space to breathe. No spoon-feeding the same riff over and over, no clambering to get to the first chorus in the first thirty seconds – the guitars can go wandering and the honey-licked vocals can creep and swoop without being suffocated. Even the drums get a couple of solos, meaning you have time to stand back and fully absorb every inch of what the band is creating.

Parker seems genuinely moved by the reaction of the London mob, shaking his head in between songs and murmuring, “Amazing, you guys, just amazing.” And as the band leave the stage his grinning band mates come fist pumping to the front of the stage, clearly trying to get their longhaired hippy heads around the adoration they receive. But there’s one more twist in the tale of the Tame. The boys re-emerge for an extended version of old favourite ‘Half Full Glass of Wine’ a driving, twisted monster of a tune, before finally releasing the feverous crowd from their jaws, leaving them to stumble out dazed into the biting Halloween freeze.

 

Words by Luke Holloway

Photos by Rachel Lipsitz

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