Gigs Reviews

Review: Tame Impala @ Belvoir Amplitheatre 14.11

Words By: Laurent Shervington

Thunderstorms and grey skies greeted audience members as they descended upon Upper Swan for the great return of Perth’s most celebrated sons. After reports that the band’s Sydney forecourt show was too quiet with members of the audience chanting ‘turn it up’, the band played at a somewhat sufficient volume, with nothing but late night wine tours to disturb beyond the rusty gates of the venue.

Tame opened proceedings with ‘Let It Happen’, drawing a jam from the synthesiser driven track and managing to stammer out a few ‘h-hey Perth, how are ya!’s throughout it’s 7-8 minute  duration. The vibe from the crowd was as expected: jubilant, eager and somewhat ah.. ‘hazy’.

Given the decade based output of Tame’s catalogue (Innerspeaker – 60s, Lonerism – 70s, Currents – 80s) the variation was starkly noted as the band jumped from album to album (unfortunately not setting the time machine back to their first ep, usually very tight live) in quick succession. While the tracks from earlier Tame Impala releases sounded punchy and fuller, the tracks from ‘Currents’ felt underwhelming and paled in comparison to the less synth driven material. In particular, during ‘The Moment’ the synthesizers came out as somewhat meandering and tactless, despite the rhythm section of the band holding their own.

The set highlight was easily the Innerspeaker throwback ‘Solitude is Bliss’ which drew out seamlessly into a blistering progressive rock jam, with the band finding their way in amongst the acid wash visuals behind them.

Image credit: Under the Radar
Image credit: Under the Radar

About 2/3rds of the way through the set, Parker showed off a sneak peak of the ‘Tame Impala family Christmas lights show’, hooking his guitar up to the visualiser on the screen behind and utilising all the audio-visual capabilities of the huge outdoor Amplitheatre. However the more Kevin’s party trick dragged on, the less interesting it became. The set itself was full of loud-quiet dynamic changes, often drifting from a strung out synth or guitar line to the crushing romp of a disco beat after some moments of tranquillity. This became somewhat of a predictable experience even before the mid-waypoint of the set, with Kevin’s Pixies’ fetish feeling more akin to a Scandinavian DJ bass drop than the 80s synth pop styling’s on ‘Currents’.

After briefly leaving the stage to recoup their thoughts, the band returned for their sing along number ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ as well as ‘Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control’, which felt like a fitting end.

All-in-all Tame’s return to Perth didn’t feel entirely convincing or disappointing, hitting a middle ground that may have been overcome with more prominent live mixing and fewer gimmicks in the set. While the ‘Currents’ section of the set flew by this reviewer faster than the Fremantle Doctor on a summer day, the evening did have its moments and I’m sure the majority of punters would have gone home happy. And hey, that’s what Big Kev would have wanted.