Four years on from Tame Impala‘s international breakthrough album ‘Currents’, fans of the Kevin Parker-led band were hoping for the best when a pair of disco-tinged singles, ‘Patience’ and ‘Borderline’, emerged this past spring. Could that highly sought-after new album be right around the corner?
Regrettably, the answer to that is negative. Parker recently told The New York Times that while a fourth album had “taken shape in my head”, he just couldn’t “hurry” his recording process. To be fair, Parker probably hadn’t factored in the grim possibility that his work would be affected by a destructive California wildfire, either. Writing sessions for the album were halted back in November by the devastating spread of the Woolsey Fire. He escaped unhurt, but the damage was costly: instruments and recording equipment valued at $30,000 (£23,640) were among the personal possessions of his which were destroyed.
Thankfully, Parker has remained undeterred and is thought to have since resumed work on the new record, albeit with one eye firmly on fulfilling a packed 2019 live schedule. Their ongoing fixture list is littered with opportunities to grace some of the world’s biggest stages, which has already included topping the bill at Coachella in April. They’ll now take on a headline slot on The Other Stage at Glastonbury later this month, while tonight’s debut performance at The O2 (June 8) is a significant milestone in itself. Over the years, Tame Impala have become renowned for letting their enchanting sound and mind-bending light shows do the talking, and the five-strong band (plus occasional bongo player) admirably don’t appear to be too daunted by the prospect of taking on arenas these days. Their ever-expanding soundscape helps smooth over this process, cascading around this colossal venue as soon as the first psychedelic-disco notes of opener ‘Let It Happen’ ring out.
The two new singles are triumphantly aired, with the mass aisle-boogieing to ‘Patience’ reaching a level not witnessed on these shores since the dance parties at cinemas screenings of Mamma Mia 2 last year. Beyond that song and ‘Borderline’ in the show’s final stretch, there’s no more new music, though.
Familiar cuts from ‘Currents’ dominate, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – nor do the crowd seem to mind. Especially when they’re treated to the insistent shuffle of ‘The Moment’, the hands-aloft glory of ‘Eventually’ and the unifying dancefloor slayer ‘The Less I Know the Better’. Parker’s band are on sizzling form, melting the end of ‘Mind Mischief’ into live favourite ‘Sestri Levante’, and tweaking ‘Elephant’ just enough to make it sound as immediately brilliant as the first time you ever heard it.
The Tame Impala live experience is synonymous with two main ingredients: guitar solos, and mesmerising light shows. The band’s current live set-up has seen them double down on the latter. A gigantic circular lighting rig that could double up as (or maybe is?) a UFO haunts the stage throughout, called on occasionally to fire out lighthouse-level blasts of colour across each and every crevice of venue. It’s a transfixing prospect that ensures this set is different enough and a progression from the last tour to make it worth witnessing when they roll through your town. When they cart their cosmic space ring all the way to Worthy Farm in a few weeks, Glasto-goers would certainly be daft to skip their set.
“We’ll be back very soon, with a bunch of new songs to play,” Parker teases ahead of closer ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’, where the band’s confetti cannons go off once more. It’s the kind of promise we were hoping to be given tonight, but it’s still a marvel to witness Tame Impala getting bigger and better with every live show. Roll on Glastonbury.
Tame Impala played:
Let It Happen
The Less I Know the Better
Yes I’m Changing
It Is Not Meant to Be
Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?
Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
New Person, Same Old Mistakes