Music review: Tame Impala, Hammersmith Apollo, London


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The Independent Culture

If Kevin Parker’s recent criticism of disengaged festival crowds, whom he branded "Tarzans", revealed a spikier side to Tame Impala's frontman, the Australian appeared wholly engrossed, responsive and appreciative during last night’s scintillating pre-Glastonbury performance.

The critically acclaimed band opened their set with three typically philosophical songs from their debut album titled Innerspeaker. "Solitude Is Bliss" epitomised their unique brand of revivalist 60s and 70s, psychedelic rock, with a constant fluidity, which listeners cannot help but enjoy.

Parker’s self-imposed seclusion whilst writing his albums has evidently allowed him to produce some of the most personally intense lyrics, which he bellows to a sold-out Apollo crowd. The band cruised through six songs from their second album Lonerism, which included the emotionally-charged "Apocalypse Dreams" creating a free realm for drummer Julien Barbagallo to stamp his loud mark on the performance.

Parker’s self-confidence and trust in his fellow bandmembers was last night obvious as he encouraged improvisation. The resulting intricately complex, impulsive and layered music included regular extensions of instrumental intros and melodies which sometimes enveloped Parker’s lyrics as the diminuendo tailed off.

The frontman’s voice reverberated and echoed around the charismatic venue in a manner reminiscent of Lennon. As the set reached its dramatic crescendo, Tame Impala played "Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?", a reciprocal question that temporarily forced audience-members into a moment of reflection. It is a truly beautiful song that underlines the frustrations and inner struggles experienced by the band’s iconic lead man.

Comparisons have been drawn between Tame Impala and Radiohead, in that the sounds they produce prompt listeners to speculate, think and question; last night’s performance certainly had traces of Kid A. Moreover, the audience appreciated Parker’s brave and innovative experimentation with technology which he perceives as endless in its possibilities.

Parker displays an expansive array of swirling guitar pieces which interrupt the melody, without causing disruption. For the encore, Tame Impala played an amalgamation of album and EP tracks, including the irrepressibly groovy "Alter Ego", against a backdrop of colourful and constantly changing kaleidoscope images - a combination ensuring the audience could no longer suppress the desire to sway and bop.

In a typically modest manner, Parker left his adoring audience with the eternally optimistic "Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control". Judging from the optimistic faces, the audience was left with renewed hope for a future of happy coexistence between man and technology.