Australian psychedelic rock Band Tame Impala took over the Ally Pally last night, playing a sold out gig to thousands and clearly having the time of their lives. Support was from the excellent Jagwar Ma, although thanks to the delights of London’s public transport system we managed to arrive as they walked off stage, which was hardly ideal.
Refusing to be put out by our late arrival we forced our way through the crowd and waited for the main event. When Tame Impala came on they did so accompanied by a light show straight out of a 1960’s LSD trip and started with into one of the biggest songs from their newer album, the stellar “Let it Happen”. The crowd reaction was incredible, but slightly bizarre, with almost a mosh-pit opening up at the front and people leaping around as if it was 1977 and the Sex Pistols had just launched into “Anarchy in the UK”, not what I was expecting from the decidedly mellow, psychedelic feel of Tame Impala. This was the first of a few times during the gig that the band seemed a bit out of place in the traditional gig setting, their set was tight, the songs were great and lead singer Kevin Parker’s rapport with the crowd was undeniable, but it seems strange that a band whose frontman is listed as playing “Vocals, Guitar and Kazoo” on their Wikipedia would provoke such an energetic and at times violent response. The security at the gig also detracted from the free-love aesthetics of the visuals and music, demanding that nobody get on each other’s shoulders, crowd surf or breath in the wrong direction, perhaps understandable when trying to police such a massive crowd, but still a bit of a mood killer.
Overall Tame Impala played a fantastic set, with an encore consisting of the old favourite “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” coupled with new song “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” and a blast from two massive confetti cannons summing up the exuberance and fun that should have permeated the whole gig. Unfortunately a cold February night and a ten thousand strong crowd don’t easily gel with the band’s sound, and no matter how great they were there was always the feeling that really, you’d rather be listening to them whilst lying in a field on a summers day with a cold pint in one hand, not standing jammed into a sweaty teenagers armpit drinking warm Carlsberg out of a paper cup whilst an overenthusiastic fan elbows you in the kidneys from behind.