As he stands in front of a sold out near 5,000 capacity crowd, Kevin Parker must be finding it hard to feel lonely. Whatever the true definition of ‘Lonerism’ is, this is no doubt its complete opposite. Performing the introspective songs of Innerspeaker and Lonerism live is the one thing he can’t do alone, and he forms a powerful live act with his band’s creatively off-hands members. Who give the songs an organic weight and might which is not provided by Parker’s studio mastery.

A shaky version of Lonerism opener “Be Above It” starts the night, it’s looped beats sound out of place when they’re freed from the album version’s headphone-friendly sonic collage, and thrown into the wide expanse of Brixton Academy. Kevin Parker’s voice is still soft and effective but it’s ultimately all too gentle of an opener for the eager crowd. “Solitude Is Bliss” quickly salvages the set and really kicks things off, with a gigantic chorus that’s definitely more suited for this new environment the band find themselves in. Their set has the feeling of being heavy with material from their debut album, despite the songs played from Lonerism outnumbering those from Innerspeaker by one. The band are far more adept at playing their first album tracks, and almost every song they play from it features an excellent extended jam. But it’s clear that they’re still in the transitional period between the two records.

The pulsating bass grooves of Pond’s lead screamer Nick Allbrook bounce around the venue as the swaggering thud of “Elephant” blurs the line in the crowd between dancing, jumping and being involuntarily dragged around. A mid song breakdown finds room for a brief noodling solo section that might have been a parody or a technical problem, yet still featured a thunderous drum solo. The entirety of the set is littered with tight and spasmodic drum fills from new drummer Julien Barbagallo, who does a great job of distinguishing the live percussion from the  Parker-recorded drums of their two albums. The sugary Pop melody of “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” makes for an impassioned sing along, and the crunch of “Desire Be, Desire Go” forms a base for Parker’s soft voice.

After the serene outro of “Apocalypse Dreams” and several minutes of looped bass feedback they retake the stage. “We don’t usually do encores. We’re still getting used to them” says Parker as they wait for Allbrook, who has temporarily disappeared and delayed the encore. The response to closer “Half Full Glass of Wine” suggests they’re going to need to get used to them fast. They replicate the songs artificial switch from 45rpm to 33rpm and play an incredible long jam version, pierced at times by Parker’s screeching guitar. The mid song section slowly builds to a clean but chaotic crescendo, and the final return to infectious psych funk riff is joyous.

Every prediction of “Tame Impala are going to be huge” seems to have come true. The band appeared truly humbled by the size and enthusiasm of the crowd, it must have been a performance where they really felt like they had ‘made it’. “I wish we could show you videos of our first shows” says Jay Watson, “With like five people there” adds Parker, before going on to call it their biggest headline show by far. It felt like an important moment in the band’s history, those shows with just five people watching are a thing of the past.

5/5

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