by Luke Keatinge
Straight off the back of a huge US tour, Tame Impala set out on their first Aussie tour in over two years this past month, captivating audiences with an entire new album of instant classics yet to be performed for Australian audiences. After shows in Melbourne and Sydney, they finally arrived in WA this past weekend on a warm Spring night that made a perfect setting for the beautiful Belvoir amphitheater in the Swan Valley. The band played two shows at Belvoir; one sold-out show on Saturday the 14th and a second on Sunday the 15th, and I was lucky enough to attend both. The first night, watching from the top of the hill at the back of the venue, taking in the entire magical spectacle, and the second night right at the very front, just a metre or so away from the band. In many ways, I was able to get both perspectives as Tame Impala transported us to another place.
Accompanied by local band Koi Child, performing their hits ‘Slow One’ and ‘Black Panda’ as well as LA outfit Mini Mansions, who really got the crowd amped with their hits ‘Vertigo’ and ‘Feakout!’, the energy was electric by the time Tame Impala hit the stage at 9pm (both nights following the same set times). The stage went dark, and a slow synth began to build as the band entered the stage one-by-one to mass applause – ending with frontman Kevin Parker, entering stage left wearing his signature scarf. Beginning with a short instrumental track, the night then kicked off with the eight-minute ‘Let it Happen’, definitely my favourite from the new album. The track made for an amazing way to get the show started as the five-piece Perth band were finally and excitedly back in their hometown – a sentiment shared by Parker on stage, expressing how good it feels to be able to play for their city.
The psychedelic rockers then took us on a transcendent, dream-like journey with an extraordinarily massive 90-minute set, complimented with an entrancing light show and visuals projected behind them. They played all their classic hits from their first two albums Innerspeaker and Lonerism, including ‘Mind Mischief’, ‘Why Won’t you Make up your Mind?’ and crowd-favourite ‘Elephant’. Not surprisingly, the audience was just as into all their new hits; something that is not always the case when bands tour their new album, and is a testament to how amazing the new album Currents really is. Highlights from Currents included ‘Eventually’, ‘Cause I’m a Man’, and ‘The Less I Know the Better’, leaving the audience in awe as they continued to escalate a hypnotic intensity throughout the entire show. This escalation ultimately peaked with the final song in the original set, ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ from second album Lonerism. The song had an intense and mind-bending drop mid-way through that shook the crowd with its incredible blend of synthesized sounds, trippy colour displays and dramatic drumming as Parker rolled around on stage playing out his final distorted guitar riffs; ending the set on a fittingly climactic note.
After a few moments, the band answered the crowd’s chanting for an encore. Again, the lights went out, and the night was taken to another place as the iconic opening drum beats of their definitive hit ‘Feels Like we Only Go Backwards’ began to play out across the amphitheater. More so than any other, this was the song that unified the crowd, and the entire Belvoir audience sang in unison as Parker walked from side to side, singing to the crowd whilst pointing the microphone out and letting the audience have their moments too. After a concluding instrumental tune, bookending the gig, Tame Impala said their goodbyes and exited the stage, leaving the audience shaken, buzzing and inspired after witnessing something truly one-of-a-kind.
Both nights were unforgettable experiences for all lovers of music and art (even fellow Freo band San Cisco could be spotted among the crowd). As a fan, it has been amazing to see Tame Impala rise from a small indie Perth band to one of the biggest and most ambitiously unique acts in the world in such a short time. Truly an inspiring and mesmerizing, intimate yet monumental concert with a positively infectious atmosphere; both nights were celebrations of a unique sound that is representing the potential of Australian music and making their hometown of Perth very proud.
The opportunity to witness a band at the peak of their power is an unforgettable experience – something that I personally had to see twice. Tame Impala’s innovative blend of psychedelia, electronica, rock and soul allows them to tap into and sustain a certain energy and intensity that cannot be achieved with other styles of music; making their live shows truly special experiences. Currents is a definite contender for album of the year, and has shown that this band is no one-trick pony. Tame Impala represents something truly inspiring and unique. They don’t fit a specific mold or genre, and they fill a space in music today that is not being filled and has not been for a very long time. With three diverse and incredible albums under their belt, and a mind-blowing live presence unlike any other, Tame Impala have found their niche and are captivating the world. This band is unstoppable.