Review of Tame Impala @ Barrowlands, Glasgow, 8/9/2015

Written by Liam Dickson / Photograph © Izzy Claase 2015, Feast.
Tame Impala
The Barrowland Ballroom has played host to many a band passing through on their ascent to rock royalty – Arcade Fire, Oasis, Muse, Foo Fighters, even U2 – and once again this legendary Glasgow venue will become a landmark moment in the rise of another, this time Australian outfit Tame Impala, freshly reinvented and on arguably their best form to date.
As the house lights dim and the screams ring around the converted ballroom we see a solitary green light appear on the back screen presumably being controlled somewhere off stage. As thunderous bass noise bubbles up through the PA the light slowly begins to spin in a circle, turning and widening and picking up pace until a neon vortex and chest-shaking bass rumble converge in an assault on the senses. Suitably hyped, frontman Kevin Parker and his backing band (he writes and records the music himself, the name Tame Impala just a moniker for his work) emerge from the shadows to rapturous applause and warm up the crowd and themselves with a phat, trippy little jam.
They don’t let the pace drop and fire straight into ‘Let It Happen’, the seven-minute opener from new album ‘Currents’ – many in the crowd are wondering how or even if the band can replicate the editing trickery used on the track to give the mid-section instrumental it’s glitchy electro quality, and they only go and nail it!
Tame leant heavily on new material to fill up their set list with no complaints from the audience (their newest album is getting five star reviews left right and centre). With limited space on the set list for older tracks, Parker shows a keen awareness of his own music with the choice picks he decided to include – ‘Why Won’t They Talk To Me’, ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ and ‘Mind Mischief’ go down a storm from breakthrough second album ‘Lonerism’, and now-an-oldie ‘It Is Not Meant To Be’ was a welcome surprise when nobody was really expecting to hear much from the debut.
The set reached fever pitch about midway through; the foot-stomping glam monster hit ‘Elephant’ that put Parker on the musical map for many causes a near riot before seguing into new cut ‘The Less I Know The Better’, it’s almost Madonna-esque sickly sweet vocals and unbelieeevably funky guitar riff sees a thousand shoulders jostling for space as they do what main man Kevin had realised he’d never seen his fans do before – dance, unashamedly!
This was the thinking behind the change in direction heralded by the release of third full-length LP ‘Currents’ – as Parker improves both in musical ability and in personal confidence he sheds any anxious reservations and escapes the diminutive label of ‘stoner rock’ or ‘psychedelic revival’. Not everyone picked up on the slow decline of the previous generation of bands – the ‘noughties bands’ – that were heralded as the new guard of guitar music; acts like Franz Ferdinand, Razorlight and Kaiser Chiefs have slipped from festival headliner status to relative obscurity, while figureheads Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian have soldiered on upwards whilst morphing into exaggerated caricature versions of their former self. But the noughties are long gone now and a new wave needs to fill the void.
Tame Impala are without a doubt one of the most professional sounding and well-rehearsed bands doing the rounds nowadays. Not content with merely reciting material for a paying audience, each and every song in the set was beefed up, tripped out, extended or otherwise mixed about to some degree to keep the audience on their toes (no pun intended) and to avoid performances from becoming stale – they’ll no doubt be touring this album for a long time and if there’s one thing a band hates, it’s playing the same thing over and over again.
The sound, atmosphere and bright psychedelic visuals came together beautifully, swishing synths echoing round the high rounded ceiling of the Barrowlands. We saw Parker come out of his shell (or at least poke his head out) as he substitutes his guitar for adorable little dance moves on occasion and hilariously throws bottled water over the rabid crowd like a camp fountain – “I feel like I’m saving your lives or something!” Tame Impala have moved tracks and hit a musical goldmine with this new direction, and if he’s done it once he could more than easily do it again. This band will keep changing and subverting expectations and for this they will inevitably rise above the rest. All hail the next great band!

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