How Tame Impala Fell In Love With Glastonbury (And Vice Versa)

Tame Impala occupy that grey border area where they’re massive in the indie world (this magazine named their record ‘Lonerism’ album of the year in 2012) but still on the fringes of the mainstream. Rihanna may cover their song ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’, but you’d be hard-pressed to pick out any of the band in your local craft ale emporium.

They recently played the Radio One Big Weekend, but in the smaller tent rather than the main stage. No such minor billing at Glastonbury: their prime slot just before Adele on the Pyramid Stage on Saturday evening provided them with a perfect opportunity to win over a prime time audience.

Kevin Parker grabbed hold of that opportunity like Boris Johnson spotting a mislaid set of Downing Street keys. A few years ago, at Primavera, I asked Parker how he finds playing festival crowds and he told me that sometimes he’s not sure how they’re reacting – even after he comes off stage. “Sometimes we’ll get offstage and someone will say: ‘Man, that crowd didn’t give a shit’,” he said. “Then someone else will say: ‘No man, they were totally transfixed.’ That seems to be the keyword. It just proves that it’s completely subjective. The crowd could have been dead, or it could have been transfixed, and transfixed is like the best possible thing because they’re so into it they can’t even move.”

Here at Glastonbury he’ll have had no such worries. The huge Pyramid stage audience swayed and danced in time to the band’s kaleidoscopic right through the opening run of ‘Nangs’, ‘Let It Happen’ and ‘Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?’. “I’ve tried to imagine for a really long time how good this would feel, but I guess I failed,” Parker told them, clearly in the midst of one of the best moments of his life. The sprawling crowd certainly shows how much the band’s appeal has grown since they last played the festival, opening the Pyramid stage in 2011, a fact Parker referred to later in the set: “We played first in the day five years ago and, let me tell you, it was pretty different scenery. Any doubt that I had in my mind that Glastonbury is the greatest festival in the world is well and truly gone. To even call it a festival feels weird, it’s so much more than that. That’s how I feel.” The whole show was essentially a love-in between band and festival, and while many bands declare their love for Glastonbury, Parker seemed particularly sincere. ““We never lie when we tell the audience they’re the best crowd of the tour or something,” Parker told me at Primavera. “I would never just say that.”

They’ve certainly thrown themselves into the Glastonbury spirit. After playing his Mark Ronson collaboration ‘Daffodils’ – last seen here during Ronson’s set on the Other Stage last year – midway through today’s set, he’ll be joining Ronson once more for a back-to-back DJ set at Shangri Hell at 3am tomorrow morning. You don’t get deeper into the Glastonbury spirit than that.

His bandmates have also immersed themselves in the festival, with multi-instrumentalist Jay Watson admitting he was feeling worse for wear. “I had a really good time last night,” he told the crowd. “I’m struggling a bit but that’s OK.” Parker added: “Everyone give it up for Jay. He’s a bit hungover, but that’s your guys’ fault.”

Watson was hardly the only person at Glastonbury hungover today, but Tame Impala’s triumphant performance will have soothed thousands had set us up for another debauched Saturday night. They’re a fringe concern no more, and when Parker told the crowd: “I love you” the feeling was very much mutual. See you in Shangri Hell later, Kevin.