Let me start off by saying that unfortunately, this may not be the most fair and balanced review of a concert that you’ve ever read. As a huge Impala fan, I would have found it hard to find any faults in their performance regardless, but as luck would have it, I left the Fremantle Arts Centre on Saturday night not just impressed, but completely blown away.
What a beautiful venue the South Lawn is for a Summer concert. An open air space surrounded by majestic trees on one side and the Arts Centre building warmly lit on the other, a perfect place for the Freo boys to return to play in front of a home crowd. Expectations were rising as the sun started to go down, and when all that was left was a sliver of light over the horizon and a crescent moon overhead, the lads took to the stage.
They started the set off the same way they started off Lonerism, with Be Above It building slowly and steadily until Kevin’s vocals echoed out across the crowd. The punters seemed mesmerised, some swaying back and forth, others nodding their heads, but looks of anticipation were unmistakable for what was to come. They didn’t have to wait long, as the intro to Solitude is Bliss rang out and you could feel the energy rise throughout the crowd.
There’s something about listening to this kind of music live that just brings a whole new dimension to it. It’s complex layers and melodies are meant to be heard loud, meant to fill you up from the inside out and envelope you in a warm blanket of sound. There are two tracks (one on each album) that epitomise this for me, and I was in luck because they just happened to feature back to back. Endors Toi was followed by It’s Not Meant To Be, and it was hard to shake the fuzzy feelings that followed (but who’d want to!)
You could genuinely tell that Kev was happy to be home as his infrequent moments of addressing the crowd were him giving thanks for everyone turning up, and praising the venue. His only request was for the crowd to get a bit more wild, but judging from the constant haze of smoke emanating from the mass of people, there could have been simple explanations for the chilled out vibe that many were feeling 😉
Part of the joy of seeing Tame Impala live is as much in their interludes, and extended intros/outros as it is in being able to sing along to the songs you know and love. We got a taste of both as the band started banging out Elephant to riotous applause. Despite it being the most thumping number on the bill, the crowd were surprised as the song neared the end and things were slowed down to a crawl. The band then launched into a downtempo dub infused jam, and the bassline grooved along so smoothly you couldn’t help but nod your head. It really shows the musical talent these guys have, their ability to move seamlessley between tempos and tracks, all the while maintaining the absolute focus of the crowd. It almost felt like a rebellious move on their part to go from so energetic to so chilled, or maybe they just like to keep you guessing.
The band flicked back and forth between tracks from Innerspeaker and Lonerism, with tracks like Feels Like We Only Go Backwards garnering huge singalongs from the crowd, and Desire Be Desire Go getting the nostalgia flowing. They closed off their set with Apocalypse Dreams, and the crowd responded in turn, as hands were raised and all other thoughts seemed to melt away.
Despite leaving the stage at this point, it was clear that things weren’t going to be over yet, as the hum of the guitar kept the speakers buzzing, and it wasn’t long before they returned for an encore. To the delight of (and many screams from!) the crowd, they launched into Half Glass Full of Wine. It was an amazing rendition, stretching out to about 10 minutes long. You get an idea about the complexity of their compositions when you hear them play like this, stripping things back to a single instrument and then one by one layering things back on top again. It gives you a small insight into the way Kevin Parker must work while he’s writing, building things up one step at a time until he reaches the full rich sound that we know Tame Impala for.
That was where things drew to a close, and although I for one was left begging for more, it was a great way to close of an amazing set. Now that the boys have announced a new US tour, I’m sure many are hoping that it won’t be too long until they’re back in front of an Aus crowd once again, but it would be a shame to deny the rest of the world such a great musical experience.
Be Above It
Solitude Is Bliss
It Is Not Meant To Be
Music to Walk Home By
Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?
Desire Be Desire Go
Half Glass Full of Wine