Tame Impala, O2 Brixton Academy, London
Wednesday 31 October 2012
To the casual observer, it might seem that Australia’s new psychedelic heroes Tame Impala have plonked into the big time out of nowhere; in fact this headline slot at Brixton crowns a steady build of three years among the UK’s more paisley-minded types.
It’s their second album Lonerism that’s really made it for them, a sparklingly self-absorbed shrine at which this notably glossy-haired crowd has come to nod.
Kevin Parker, Tame Impala’s singer and sonic wizard, and his crew begin with "Be Above It", the mantra-like, murmuring roll that also opens Lonerism. Like the song that follows, "Solitude Is Bliss", it’s both beautifully made, an obsessively precise study in psych mannerisms, and possessed of an insular, neurotic obsession with Parker's social inadequacies.
Many of his songs, as the title of Lonerism suggests, focus on shyness, ostracism, feelings of detachment. Where friends The Horrors make very similar sonic inspirations into something dark and cosmic, sometimes Parker, looking wan and centre-parted on Brixton’s big stage tonight, comes across more as a moper at the gates of dawn, on too much of a bummer to search for the doors of perception, settling instead on the doormat of dejection and writing songs with titles like "Why Won't They Talk To Me?"
While not wishing to steal Parker's lunch money while he's down, Tame Impala, like their offshoot band Pond (Parker also lends his production skills to his girlfriend Melody Prochet’s project Melody’s Echo Chamber), are best when at their most bullish, when the likes of recent single "Elephant" or the bouncy, poppy "Lucidity" romp around the vast hall like hale and hearty sun-fed Aussie psych monsters.
They’re at they’re most dull when contemplating their own trip, and towards the end of tonight's show, that feels like a little too often. When they err on their Led Zep rather than their Syd Barrett side, though, they’re pretty unstoppable, and as he sets the whizzy, Dandy Warhols-ish psych-pop of "Desire Be, Desire Go" spinning, the previously sheepish Parker looks like he knows it.
They’re a formidable live band, filling this imposing venue with great hypnotic swirls and swoons of keys and effects, swathing cascades and chasms of smartly structured rhythm. And as they grow in confidence, it can’t be long before Parker’s grandiose musical structures become the vehicle for an inner journey to something grander than first-day-at-school nerves.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling