“Kevin Parker is an interdimensional being sent here to show us the meaning of sound.”
In the weed-tinged mosh pit at Tame Impala’s second sold out gig at the Sydney Opera House Forecourt, I heard this and several other similar remarks.
Perhaps it’s a slight overstatement, but there’s no denying that the Perth-born musician is among the top musical exports that Australia has to offer. Across his three albums at Tame Impala, Parker channels an infectious blend of psychedelic rock and pop, comprised of layer upon layer of sonic mastery. With his talented ear for production, Tame Impala’s albums are amazingly atmospheric, demanding to be listened to with headphones on and lights off.
But how well does this experience translate live? The answer: incredible.
Tame Impala treated fans to a generous mix of new and old, and utilised the beautiful outdoor space of the Opera House Forecourt to channel the psychedelic experience to a live setting. The stage was furnished with a variety of flashing lights and a constantly shifting and trippy projected backdrop that moved in time with the music.
From the epic 8-minute opener ‘Let It Happen’, the title track from new album Currents, it was clear that we were in for a treat. Weaving between looping synth sections and heavier rock riffs, the band expertly translated the difficult track into a live setting. Although Parker seems to have previously struggled to hit some of his falsetto highs, his voice sounds perfect now, and ‘Let It Happen’ showcased this straight out of the gate.
The same can be said for all the new material from Currents, which sounded just as impressive as the old. Although less guitar-fuelled than cuts from the first two albums, the six tracks played highlighted the bands’ impressive shift into disco and synth-pop territory. A particular highlight was ‘Eventually’, with the track’s warbling bass and beautiful falsetto-refrain echoing across the Forecourt. A testament to the new material, fans gave it their best to sing along to all, trying desperately to emulate Parker’s ridiculous range.
As expected, older tunes still sounded fantastic also, and the familiarity of both the band and the audience with these tracks allowed Tame Impala to experiment more broadly with them, stretching them out into longer, looser jams. A particular highlight was hit single ‘Elephant’, played relatively early in the set, and truly bringing the mosh pit to life. An unrelated release of fireworks from near the Harbour Bridge during the song made it an experience not to be quickly forgotten.
For the complete photo gallery from Tame Impala’s first show, click here.