A Tame Impala performance is more like stepping into the 200mph mind of Kevin Parker than any standard gig. Almost single-handedly prizing psychedelica back from the brink of irrelevance, he is as rich in alt-credibility as mainstream and critical acclaim.
And the excitement for their unique brand of acid-drenched agony is palpable prior to the gig, as an eclectic a crowd as you are ever likely to see in Glasgow on a Saturday night gathered to worship at the altar of these Australian aural pioneers.
Opener ‘Be Above It’ is a mad romp down the sonic backalleys, with constantly repeated chants and some size 11 guitar effects acting as the first horseman of the space rock apocalypse that will unfold throughout the rest of the gig.
Things are brought slightly back from the brink of psychosis by Innerspeaker’s ‘Solitude Is Bliss’, although on any other night this would have the audience wondering if their drink had been spiked. It’s as burly a track as they have in their locker, with Parker’s marvelling rifts and Jay Watson’s whiplash drumming bounding through the packed ABC.
Completely assured on stage, Parker doesn’t even address the audience until four songs in – though this is undoubtedly due to the band losing themselves in the music as much as the crowd rather than any rock star egotism. Their composed flow doesn’t skip a beat as they shift gears into the glam grind of ‘Elephant’, one of the lead tracks from the most recent Lonerism. Its pulsatingly powerful bassline sounds like it could have wiped out the dinosaurs and instigates the first ‘psych’ pit of the night. It’s Tame Impala’s last leg of their European tour, something ably demonstrated by the fact they are happy throw in a couple minutes of a jazz whig-out prior to the song’s final few strums.
The hyped up breaks of ‘Lucidity’ brings a seriously 70s feel to proceedings, with the song as indebted to Led Zepplin as it is to the sun-soaked beaches of their homeland. It’s a song that has the audience bobbing like puppets, with Parker’s otherworldly vocals the cherry on top of this hypnotic cake.
‘Desire Be, Desire Go’ has as much fuzz as you’re likely to hear this side of a Hendrix’s B-side. Its slithering groove is addictive on the ears and ably complemented by the band’s blistering light show. The set is closed by the slower ‘Apocalypse Dreams’, a song that comes dripping in euphoria. With more layers than an onion, the track builds up then strips back the psychedelic levels as it transcends sonic plain after sonic plain. They depart the stage hallucinogenic heroes.
But alas, Tame Impala aren’t quite finished yet. They return to the fire out the muddy ‘Half Full Glass Of Wine’, a frenetic, filthy fusion of a song – it’s glorious.
Tame Impala look and sound exactly what you’d want your dream band to be like. Their music has an off-kilter genius that is a step above so much that is currently being made. Their sound might be based in the 60s and 70s but their hearts are definitely in 2012 – the only question is, what will they do next?