Sunday, 5 June 2016

Tame Impala at the Sydney Opera House forecourt

Photo: SMH
It’s no small feat to play in front of an international landmark, and Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker knew this was no ordinary gig. “I can’t believe we’re playing here, with that thing in the background, just right there…” That thing was the Sydney Harbour Bridge, peeking out behind the sails of the Opera House, and viewed perfectly from the outdoor stage where Tame Impala were playing to an audience in awe on the Opera House steps.

The band has been a top Aussie musical export and festival staple for years now but when you take their live show out of a dark concert hall to an outdoor space, there is something to say for how their psychedelic comes to life under a starry night sky. But despite the atmospheric spark, it was a shame that noise restrictions cut the sound levels to a less than impressive level.

Most critics of Tame Impala devote words to their elongated jams, cosmic effects and captivating visuals, but what struck me the most was Parker’s humble approach to it all. He genuinely seemed overwhelmed, or at least a little nervous. He was the only band member to speak, which is normal for the group, but he did add more of a festival vibe to his announcements than we’ve seen before: “how are you guys on the side? And at the back?”. Funnily enough, Parker called for us to raise our hands in the hair and clap along like we were at a large-scale arena.

The group is famously Australian but we have had to share them with the world, for their numerous international performances. So it was pretty special to hear three albums worth of music in one show as if we got a glimpse of what their catalogue would look like together in the future. Their standout track from latest LP Currents “Eventually” was a standout at the gig. Parker’s yearning vocals were even more fragile live and the layers of instrumentation were a joy to watch come to life. 

The boys weren’t afraid to delve into overplayed tracks from their early days calling “let’s go old-school” for “Half Glass Full of Wine” and “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind.” And you can tell its been a good gig when no one leaves before the final strum of the final track of the final encore. Even with the beckoning summer night above.