Australian psych gurus play enormous headline show...
Tame Impala (Credit: Emma Viola Lilja)

I’m hit by something as I walk into Ally Pally tonight: the days where gigs smelt of piss and beer are long gone. Now they smell of perfume and wine, and everyone is dressed nice, with barely a band t-shirt in sight. Romanticists will argue that is a bad thing and that we’ve let style and fashion take precedence over substance. I’ve got a feeling Tame Impala will have something to say about that.

With the lights up, I can see the several thousand people that surround me and I’m surprised by the diversity present. Hello mass appeal. That level of interest, though, has come to the band in the right way; through the delivery of consistently good music.

The intro of droned riffs and pulsing synths precedes all eight minutes of ‘Let It Happen’, the opener from the band’s latest album 'Currents'. Halfway through the song, confetti cannons explode, unleashing beautiful greens and yellows onto the crowd – the sort of thing you’d expect during the encore, not the first song. It’s obvious the band want a party.

Thankfully, that atmosphere isn’t ruined by poor sound – something I’ve experienced previously at the venue. If anything, the levels are spot on. Its chamber-like acoustics are nothing but complimentary to Tame’s sound.

The band takes a step back to 2012’s 'Lonerism' next, with ‘Mind Mischief’ and ‘Why Won’t They Talk To Me’, before moving right back to their first album, with ‘It Is Not Meant To Be’. For me, Parker’s melodies on these tracks, along with the main guitar parts, recall a very classic psychedelia sound – a little 'Rubber Soul'-meets-Arthur Lee's Love, perhaps.

Parker is also a master manipulator of expectation and live it’s more obvious than ever. Whether it’s due to an ever so slight twist on traditional time signatures, or the gentle bending of the rules for classic chord sequences, the set is stamped firmly with the Tame Impala ident.

Enough with the introspection, though, as the band have brought us back to the present with ‘The Moments’. Its received like an anthem, despite not really having an anthemic chorus. Now that’s impressive, if you ask me.

At the midpoint we’re hit with ‘The Less I Know The Better’, straight after the dream pop sounds of ‘Yes I’m Changing’. Tame seem to have worked out the optimum order for their set and, as a result, every song strikes the desired chord with the crowd.

Despite Tame Impala’s ability to control a venue the size of Ally Pally, the band’s frontman, Mr Parker, is far from your average manchild rock star. He’s unassuming, pleasant and laid back on the mic between songs, and focused on the music while playing. Put it this way, you wouldn’t see him prancing about, from one side of the stage to other, goading fans and pogoing on the spot. The most he musters is to encourage the crowd to clap along with him from time-to-time. It’s nice.

The best thing about tonight’s performance, though, is that the band aren’t short on songs. The encore isn’t an afterthought, either, with ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ followed by ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’ to wrap things up. Sure, gigs are perhaps a little more fashion-focused than they used to be, and I’m leaving without piss and beer in my hair, but substance, in the case of Tame Impala is in abundance.

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Words: Russell Cook
Photo Credit: Emma Viola Lilja WEBSITE

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