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Party in the Palace: Tame Impala live in London

15 February 2016, 17:15 | Written by John Bell

It’s difficult to know where to begin when reviewing a performance from a band like Tame Impala and its man behind the wheel Kevin Parker.

Practically everything Parker touches turns to gold, from his pop-funk endeavours with Mark Ronson to, of course, the massively acclaimed third album Currents, released in July of last year. There are few better indicators of such success and popularity than filling the magnificent, 10,000 capacity Alexandra Palace overlooking the capital, which sold out within hours of going on sale back in September. Explosive from the start with a storm of confetti and lights, the performance is less of a Currents tour show and more a party celebrating how far they have come.

Having to add a second London date to high demand, tonight (12th Feb) is the penultimate leg of the band’s European tour with fellow hirsute Aussies Jagwar Ma, before kicking off the festival season in March. Jagwar Ma is an apt support, with their psychedelic sensibilities and dance influences, and they’re certainly great songsmiths; but at times the weariness of touring shows its tired face as vocalist Gabriel Winterfield strains to hit some notes. Opening a show in a venue of such grand, palatial scale is always going to be tough, though, especially when half-full when the acoustics are overwhelmingly boomy. It works in their favour at times, however, as in "Four", which relies on a deep resonance to add to its drama.

Crowds soon start pilling in en masse as the band’s faithful mad scientists-cum-techies prepare the stage while the distorted rumbles of the intro to "Eventually" can be heard tested.

Nothing could be more suitable to start the night than the first hit from Currents, "Let It Happen", surprising fans with a confetti explosion as the song drops into its final climax after that long, looping bridge. The translation of tracks from Currents to the stage is remarkable, sounding as crisp and clear as on record but with added live flairs to invigorate tracks both old and new, from the glaringly obvious drum solo in "Elephant", to more quick, nuanced additions for the more alert fans. We’re taken back to 2012’s Lonerism early on as they revisit tracks like the guitar-rock classic "Mind Mischief" and reverb-drenched “Why Won’t They Talk To Me?”

Things soon turn funky as that bass-lick begins "The Less I Know The Better", whilst polychromatic disco-ball glints bespatter the palace walls. People rush from the back to edge closer to Parker, who commands the stage with ease in his modest t-shirt/scarf combo.

It’s a shame, though, that Parker and co. haven’t worked on bringing some of the shorter, interlude-type tracks from Currents to life, like the unforgivably short "Disciples" for example. It’s not that the band are cutting back to save time for all the bangers—it’s a shame to not hear huge tracks like "‘Cause I’m a Man" and "Reality in Motion" in the context of Ally Pally—as they still make time for their typical jam fillers such as the self-proclaimed "drum symphony" "Oscilly". Whilst the set is slick and, looking at the many faces in the palace, euphoric, there’s still some sense that the band are playing it safe. It’s not that they need spectacle—they’re not exactly stingy with the confetti rockets in any case—but bar a few of the new hits, the set tonight feels quite similar to previous shows.

Of course, for Tame Impala, it still works. It still works so well, and with an encore that embodies both sides of the band’s newly cultivated sound—"It Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" and "New Person, Same Old Mistakes"—the night is topped perfectly.


Let It Happen
Mind Mischief
Why Won't They Talk To Me?
It Is Not Meant To Be
The Moment
Yes I'm Changing
The Less I Know The Better
Alter Ego
Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind
Apocalypse Dreams
Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
New Person, Same Old Mistakes

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