Tame Impala/Young Dreams/The Amazing
Brixton Academy, London
How can you be alone when there are nearly 5,000 people in the same room as you?
Tonight, it’s hard to tell if Kevin Parker, the lank-haired man corkscrewing awkwardly centre-stage, is his usual lonely self. He looks OK, happy even. His bare feet compress his Wiggins-worthy collection of pedals enthusiastically and, when he addresses them, he thanks the crowd profusely and with humble surprise. It’s a big occasion for Tame Impala, their creator, and for the smoky, juicy textures of his sprawling songs. If KP was ever going to feel even a little more like the popular kid in class, tonight’s the night.
But before that question can be answered, The Amazing and Young Dreams are tasked with whetting appetites and distracting impatient minds with their own pop kaleidoscopes. The Swedish band with the Dungen connection (Reine Fiske and Johan Holmegard have played in both bands) prove an immersive proposition. Gossamer guitar lines and wistful, daydreaming melodies float and sidle past each other, as taut, skittering grooves play beneath. As standout ‘Deportation Day’ babbles contentedly, The Amazing emerge as a band to bask in; clear, crisp and carefree.
Their fellow Scandi-dreamers Young Dreams, do pretty much everything you expect of a band with a name like theirs. Matias Tellez leads his band through a series of sweeping instrumentals, surging choruses and jittery melodies. You can see why Vampire Weekend fidgeter Baio chose to remix their debut single ‘Fog Of War’. Tame’s Modular labelmates are fresh, clever and, moreover, thought-provoking.
But however rousing the openers were, the icy grip of solitude soon makes itself known as Tame Impala’s set begins. ‘Be Above It’ and its nervous chug begin a seemingly never-ending onslaught. Trying to separate the sounds is futile; Tame Impala come as one almighty, mind-mashing package. ‘Lucidity’ and ‘It Is Not Meant To Be’ are sticky webs of glorious, sloshing guitar abandon, reminding everyone here that ‘Innerspeaker’ has plenty staying power. But tonight is about ‘Lonerism’ and its socially inadequate, instrumentally beautiful, mentally fragile, emotionally all-consuming nature. ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ is the most enjoyable bad mood set to music you’ll ever hear, its forlorn nature in fierce competition with milky effects and exhilarating melody, while ‘Elephant’ is big enough to warrant a reversing beep. Brixton Academy soon becomes a sea of vulnerable ecstasy, the crowd an emotional wreck at the mercy of Parker, his band and his songs. Closing pair ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ and ‘Half Full Glass Of Wine’, the latter an inspired encore, deliver the final blows, any more would have been indulgent, impossible to digest. Kevin Parker would have had to try very hard not to have felt empowered by affection as he padded offstage. Tonight, Tame Impala are all too beautiful.