Tame Impala

O2 ABC, Glasgow, November 3

Tame Impala

Just by looking around this venue tonight, you can tell that Tame Impala have made one of the albums of the year. The venue is so crowded there’s barely a postage-stamp’s-worth of space to move around in. The demographics of the crowd range from veterans who look like they were around for the first flowering of psychedelia, to teenagers who’ve just discovered the sartorial worth of the headband. If there is a cure for Kevin Parker’s lonerism, the total immersion therapy of spending night after night playing in front of audiences as large, expectant and enthusiastic as this is surely it.

And yet, watching Tame Impala still feels a bit voyeuristic. It’s certainly more of a solitary experience than a communal one: for much of tonight’s set the crowd stand, hushed and reverent, as though trying not to be noticed. They seem as lost in the cul-de-sacs of Parker’s mind as he is.

What a privileged place to lose yourself in, though. While some of the sonic density of ‘Lonerism’ is necessarily lost when there are only five pairs of hands to try and convey it live, you can still close your eyes during the likes of ‘Be Above It’ or ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ and be utterly transported. Occasionally, they even manage to surpass the recorded versions by tacking a freeform jazz coda onto the end of ‘Elephant’, or giving bowel-quaking prominence to the intricate, vintage R&B bass-wanderings of ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’.

Parker, while he’s hardly a world-class banterer, also seems a little more at ease than he has been in the past; given the size of the rooms they’re now playing to, necessity probably demands as much. By the time we’ve come out the other side of the kaleidoscopic fugue that is ‘Half Full Glass Of Wine’, it feels like this show is a pre-emptive victory lap for the year-end lists that ‘Lonerism’ will undoubtedly dominate.

Tame Impala are not really a band, but a headspace; by their very nature, they’re something insular and self-absorbed, concerned only with the neuroses and anxieties of one man. How they’ll cope with the attentions of the many should be fascinating to watch.

Barry Nicolson
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