The last date on their current tour, seeing Tame Impala at the O2 has been my most highly anticipated gig of the year so far. It’s now four years since we were graced with the astounding ‘Currents’ and since then have only been teased with two tracks ‘Borderline’ and ‘Patience’. However, since the last time I saw Parker and crew in July last year, there has been an unmistakable onstage elevation which felt as if you were entering an entirely different realm; an experience of live music I have never encountered before. This was my third time seeing the band. I had seen them in Manchester Arena in 2015 on the ‘Currents’ tour, and back in July last year where they headlined Citadel Festival. Out of these gigs, I anticipated their O2 date would be the most distant- simply due to the scale of the gig. It was surprising to me that I left feeling the complete opposite way.
Opening with the massive ‘Let It Happen’, I already knew this was going to be like no other. The crowd disintegrated into gorgeous disarray- melting almost into a state of shock that we were going to be treated to such a track as an opener. The seven minutes of bliss concluded with an assault of pink confetti, marking the start of a set which didn’t seem to stop for breath. “It’s good to be back‘, Parker’s famous Aussie accent retorted to the crowd, before plunging into newbie ‘Patience’.
Visually, the set felt like you were stuck in a state of psychedelic bliss. Suspended above Parker there was a circular set of lighting which was lifted and lowered to create a light show which only added to the trippy visuals. The set harnessed a perfect equilibrium. Moving from ‘Patience’ to ‘Currents’s veteran ‘The Moment’ and then into ‘Mind Mischief’, the band maintained a momentum which saw the crowd never halter.
‘Lonerism’ favourite ‘Elephant’ has always been one of the bands strongest tracks live. The band seemed to make the O2 reverberate in the same way smaller venues do, yet on an insane scale. They created a space and atmosphere which felt massive, yet with a sound which was just as if you were listening through headphones. The band then moved onto ‘Apocalypse Dreams’, a track which is on a whole new level live. If you ever get the chance to experience it, you will understand there is a quality to that song live which is unparalleled.
The rest of the set seemed like a blur of sheer bliss. ‘The Less I Know The Better’ and ‘Love/Paranoia’ could have been sang by the crowd alone. ‘Eventually’ sounded so good it could’ve just been someone pressing play on the album.
Parker took the time to express his gratitude and humbled admiration for the scale of their closing gig of their current tour. He also thanked and congratulated drummer Julien Barbagallo who is becoming a dad and will be parting with the band for a time. This humbled moment on the part of Parker is demonstrative of the progress of his musicianship, which has seen him flourish into one of the greatest showmen of our generation; no longer hiding behind his long hair and massive sound.
The band then took us back to ‘Innerspeaker’ with ‘It’s Not Meant To Be’ and ‘Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind’- a delightfully woozy trip back in time. Leaving before the encore, you could already feel the crowd yearning for more- like the first symptom of post-gig depression. They’d created such an incredible space and atmosphere that their lost presence was immediately felt. Returning to finish with ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ and ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’, the feeling leaving the O2 was one of complete awe and wonderment.
The best way to describe this gig is like religious experience— seeing the sheer bliss of live music done with such skill, ease and heart which left you in a state of shock. It was the sort of gig you would take someone to if they’d never experienced live music before. Fan or not, one thing which cannot be disputed is the experience Parker offers with Tame Impala live. The gig encapsulated the true beauty of live music with only lights, visuals and the music. This wasn’t a techy gig- but it didn’t need to be. It was effortless, gorgeous and honest.