“It’s only just the beginning,” drawls Tame Impala frontman/shaman Kevin Parker towards the end of their headline set on the Other Stage. He’s both right and wrong: Tame Impala are now three albums deep, with their career taking shape over a large part of the last decade. Some bands are in to and out of their peak this far down the line.
But he’s right in a way: this summer is fast becoming the golden age of Tame Impala. Starting in April with their Coachella headline set, ticking off a massive arena show in London a few weeks back and now this Other Stage headline set – yeah, it’s pretty clear that things have kicked up a gear for Parker and co. They’re now one of the biggest rock/electronic acts on the planet – not bad for a stoner from Western Australia.
Tonight’s set feels like the affirmation of the new age. Bar two new songs which were unleashed earlier this year there’s been no new full body of work, but Tame Impala are performing and moving like a different beast from their Pyramid sub-headline slot three years ago. Kevin has morphed into an actual frontman, and considering this is largely the same set they’ve been playing since third album ‘Currents’ was released in 2015, the songs seem to have matured beyond belief. The synths hit harder in ‘The Moment’, the guitar is even crunchier in ‘Elephant’ and the vibes are even dreamier in set-closer ‘Apocalypse Please’ – it’s the same old tricks, but the set-up and reveal seem to be more astounding each time.
In fact, tonight feels like the loosest they’ve been in some time. There’s little missed-beats and miscues that only uber-fans would notice, but they make the band more endearing. A gargantuan, dizzying live show has suddenly become far more human.
New material like ‘Patience’ and ‘Borderline’ go down a treat, but it’s some of the older cuts that are bolstered by the new production. An airing of rarity ‘Led Zeppelin’ is a welcome return to the setlist, and ‘Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?’ is proof that the bedroom-pop sensibilities from debut album ‘Innerspeaker’ can match the festival anthems they sidle next to.
This show is largely stripped-back in comparison to recent shows, though. The circular UFO structure that has been frequenting their recent shows doesn’t make an appearance, but the environment around them more than makes up for its absence. Pulsating lights from the nearby Glade area, fire from Arcadia’s new structure and pyrotechnics from Stormzy’s Pyramid set make for a chaotic and all-encompassing live experience, even if they didn’t have a hand in it.
The bitter ‘The Less I Know The Better’ and the self-deprecating ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’ are finishers of the highest order. It may be light on new material, but the new versions and emboldened performance from Parker means that it stays fresh in the face of accusations of repeating themselves. A worthy spectacle on the Other Stage then, and, should their new album hit just as hard as previous releases, it’s hard not to imagine them headlining the whole damn thing in the near future.
Tame Impala played:
Let It Happen
Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?
Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
Yes I’m Changing
The Less I Know The Better
New Person, Same Old Mistakes