If you were watching towering waves crashing across an ocean on a gigantic screen, in what could easily have passed as an advertisement for the crystal-clear image quality of the latest smartphone, you were probably at a Tame Impala show on their current tour. If you thought you were about to be subsumed by a menacing alien-like structure, as if War of the Worlds had come to life, you also were probably at a Tame Impala show on their current tour.
This is the level of fantastical extravaganza that Kevin Parker’s psychedelic project is operating at in 2022. His Slow Rush Tour finally made its way to New Zealand and Australia earlier this month, a delayed celebration of his fourth studio album, The Slow Rush, that received wide acclaim two years ago in more normal times.
At his Auckland show at Spark Arena, a playful introduction clip featured a pharmaceutical rep advertising a new drug that proposes to alter one’s perception of time, a gimmick that has followed this around the globe. It’s not as if any drugs are particularly necessary at a Tame Impala show, though, when such a mind-melting, multi-sensory experience is on offer.
At the heart of it all, Parker was still very much the unassuming Western Australian boy, completely at odds with the psychedelic pageantry displaying behind him. Dressed plainly in a white t-shirt and crumpled jeans, he unloaded plentiful guitar solos, seemingly lost in his musical world; “Well, Kevin’s run out of things to talk about now,” was the quick extent of his audience chatter.
The lack of camaraderie, though, didn’t matter when the music is at the exquisite level of Tame Impala. Ostensibly an album tour for The Slow Rush, the occasion often felt more like a Greatest Hits lap of honour, the immense strength of Parker’s back catalogue unselfishly provided to the audience.
Songs from Lonerism – particularly “Elephant” – were greeted rapturously, while Currents cuts filled the cavernous Spark Arena impressively. When Parker and his sublime band went back even further to Innerpeaker, the audience still eagerly approved of the choice. The psychedelic disco of his latest record, whenever it was performed, had the sitting ducks in the arena’s side sections wishing they could spill into General Standing.
Where sometimes the onstage antics devolved into self-indulgent instrumentals, a thundering track like “Elephant” was always ready to pull the audience back into the mix; Parker has always possessed the innate ability to transition between technical feats and imbibing anthems, languorous psychedelia and barnstorming rock.
Tame Impala’s Auckland show came just one week after Lonerism, Parker’s second studio album, celebrated its 10th anniversary. Watching yet another trippy montage display across the gigantic screen, it felt like this is the level of fame and appreciation that Tame Impala has always deserved; if Lonerism was his first masterpiece and Currents his second, watching Parker’s musicianship onstage surely made anyone watching firmly believe in his ability to conjure at least a third or a fourth.
Tame Impala have two dates left on their Australian tour: in Adelaide on Wednesday, October 26th and in Perth on Saturday, October 29th. Tickets are still available via Frontier Touring.