Tame Impala at All Points East: A well-paced set with a charismatic lead performance

 (Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP)
(Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP)

As a giant, strobing UFO lowered itself over Kevin Parker’s head at All Points East – spewing rainbow beams and clouds of dry ice – all memories of a once-introspective frontman quickly faded into thin air.

Though his project, Tame Impala has always crossed over heavily with the pop world – Parker has co-written for Camilla Cabello and Lady Gaga, while Rihanna covered New Person, Same Old Mistakes for her 2016 record ANTI – extroverted is not usually a word you’d necessarily use when describing the ringleader’s live presence.

In the past, he seemed half-reluctantly at the helm of a twisted psych band turned pop-rock superstars, most comfortable standing barefoot on a paisley-print rug in the middle of the stage and singing to the floor. Previously, he barely addressed the audience directly, save for an occasionally appreciative, “Hey!”

 (Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP)
(Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP)

Topping the bill at All Points East, however, Tame Impala seemed completely transformed. While Dry Cleaning and Caroline Polachek played standout sets earlier in the day, albeit to slightly sparse crowds, the Perth band-turned-solo-project succeeded in uniting the whole of Victoria Park over at the festival’s biggest stage.

Backed by impressive production, a dazzling light show, and enough laser beams to surround a heavily-guarded artefact in a heist movie, the headline set kicked off with a satirical Big Pharma commercial advertising a fictional medical product called Rushium. Judging by the gig that followed, side effects include: rousing singalongs, blizzards of confetti, and to quote Parker, getting “a little rowdy” to live favourite Elephant.

A well-paced set, much of Tame Impala’s newer material from 2020’s funk-laden The Slow Rush was stacked up early on – quickly making way for the confessional anxiety of Love/Paranoia. Though he’s perhaps best known for his distinctive sonic experiments, and crafting a unique spin on psychedelic rock that feels constantly in conversation with both sugary pop and crisp hip-hop beats, Parker’s overlooked talents as a lyricist came to the fore. “If only I could read your mind, oh, I’d be fine, I’d be normal,” he sang, a line brilliantly laced with contradictions.

Lit by a flickering circle of technicoloured lights and a flare held aloft in the crowd, Let It Happen was transcendent. A glitching, eight-minute epic flecked with reflections from a disco ball, the song seemed to unlock something new in Parker when it opened Tame Impala’s 2015 record Currents. It set the urge to “cover my shadow” alongside the desire to let loose.

Now, it seems that the old dilemma has finally been settled. As Parker playfully skipped across the front of the stage for penultimate song The Less I Know the Better, coyly singing to camera for the benefit of the big-screens, he seemed to have nailed the balance perfectly.

Published by anthonyhayble

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