Nothing tame about this beast
Tame Impala live are a looser, more limber beast – a 10-legged groove machine
Kevin Parker: keening falsetto evokes blissed-out sunsets and lonely astronauts adrift in space
No one can say for sure if time travel is possible, but most experts agree that if you could travel through time, you would only be able to go back into the past. From the first, swirling notes of their gig at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin on Wednesday, Tame Impala jettison that theory into outer space. The band from Perth, Australia, led by Kevin Parker, have pulled off the neat trick of taking the psychedelic sounds of the 1960s and putting a haunting, futuristic spin on them. Anyone can do retro – but it takes a rare talent to take an all-too-familiar genre and make it seem utterly strange and exciting.
Head-spinning organ lines, courtesy of keyboardist Jay Watson, wash over the Olympia stage as the band – comprising Parker, Watson, guitarist Dominic Simper, bassist Cam Avery and drummer Julien Barbagallo – rip through Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?, before settling into some rhythmic jazz-, funk- and techno-inflected workouts. Surfing over it all is the keening falsetto of Parker, evoking not only blissed-out sunsets on the west coast, but also lonely astronauts adrift in space.
Solitude is Bliss is a chemical cocktail of stoned mellowness, acid freakout and loved-up ecstasy. Not many bands manage to sound like The Beatles, The Flaming Lips and Underworld all in one song. Half Full Glass of Wine compresses Hendrix’s Are You Experienced? into a ball of distorted riffs and muffled, vengeful vocals. Both their debut album, 2010’s Innerspeaker, and its follow-up, Lonerism, are well-represented; when the band launch into the lumbering, time-signature bending riffs of recent single Elephant, the crowd trumpets with unconcealed glee. The plaintive Feels Like We Only Go Backwards is also afforded a special cheer.
While the albums are intricately detailed exercises in psyched-out virtuosity, Tame Impala live are a looser, more limber beast, building up the intensity like a 10-legged groove machine, then floating off into some very interesting tangents. The closing tune, Nothing that Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control is apposite – when this Impala goes buck-wild, the only thing you can really do is let go.