Review: Tame Impala at Royale, Boston

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Tame Impala, the brilliant psychedelic band from Perth on the West Coast of Australia, returned to Boston last night at the Royale in support of their recent release Lonerism. The much heralded band continues to attract followers as evidenced by the entirety of their current fall tour in the United States being completely sold out.

[Kevin Parker]

Although a relatively early show even with opening act The Amazing from Sweden, Tame Impala came on around 8:00pm and seemingly reached deep into the night skies with often dark, expansive, spacey & spellbinding sounds. Yet, just as a star is in a galaxy with millions of others, the closest is still light years away, and that is often the feeling one gets with bandleader and guitarist Kevin Parker. With albums named Lonerism and Innerspeaker and songs such as Solitude is Bliss, I guess it should be no surprise that there’s often a sense of singularity with Parker’s hypnotic guitar riffs and frequently incomprehensible vocals. Often times with a back turned to the crowd, or gazing off into distance, Parker is still able to engage and connect with the crowd especially during fan favorites such as Solitude is Bliss, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards, and It Is Not Meant To Be.

The most spectacular part of the 90 minute set was saved for the final several minutes of the show. After leaving the stage with instruments left behind and still looping the final notes of another highlight in Apocalypse Dreams, the band returned for one encore in Half-Full Glass of Wine. Oddly, dodging body surfers & stage-divers which seemed wholly inappropriate for the type of music that was being performed, Parker encouraged the crowd to clap along to help keep the beat while he did a bit of necessary guitar tuning. Then after admonishing the crowd that some people are “trying to bliss out and enjoy the show” and to stop “trying to fucking crush each other’s skulls” the band was playing harmoniously together with a lush groove & simply fantastic full-band sound that worked perfectly together. It displayed the brilliance that the band has been able to produce on their albums.

[Tame Impala]

I would have much preferred Half-Full Glass of Wine to open the show and build on those grooves and have the entire band driving and pushing the psychedelic envelope. Yet the band is more often content with a minimalistic sound akin to Astronomy Domine or other tracks from Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn. That’s not necessarily a bad thing of course, but figuring out how their recorded material best translates into the live experience is still clearly an element that Tame Impala will continue to have to refine and tweak. By 9:30pm (the Royale transforms into a nightclub) the waning notes of the encore were still looping through the sound system even after the band had long departed the stage. It left me craving more and seemed like the flashes of brilliance were entirely too quick and the opening notes of Be Above It had just been played.

Tame Impala’s tour continues tonight in New York City and includes Chicago, Toronto, San Francisco & Los Angeles.

[Show openers: Be Above It, Solitude is Bliss, It is Not Meant to Be]

[Set closer and encore: Apocalypse Dreams and Half-Full Glass of Wine]


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