Live Review: Tame Impala + The Growl – The Forum (05.12.12)

On my first visit to The Forum (being from Adelaide and all) I walked in and was struck by two things. Firstly, the incredible view of the Roman-style theatre complete with naked statues and a bright, faux-star sky. Secondly, the effortlessly booming, deep, blues beats of support band The Growl.

Their name conspicuously missing from the ticket, I had no idea who this long-haired, dirty 70s garage band from Perth were. It didn’t matter; I could’ve listened to their sultry, gritty blend of shifting rhythms all night. Vocals of pure sex, there’s no other way to put it. Highlight? A cover from sometime in the 1930s featuring harmonica and reminiscent of a bygone era of Mississippi blues. These guys can do great things. But moving on to whom we all came for…

Psychedelic is inevitably the first word that comes to mind when thinking of the Tame Impala boys from Perth, but they’re so much more. Comparisons to Lennon and The Beatles circa 1970s are the highest compliment, but not too far-fetched. It’s saying something, that they’re straight off the back of touring Europe, America in 2013, and winning the Triple J Award for Album of The Year. Melbourne, was of course a sell-out show.

A huge screen of mesmerising, moving shapes in purple, orange and all the colours of the tripping rainbow made an ideal backdrop. Mists of smoke rose from the stage and from the group next to me inhaling something illicit. The crowd was a blend of hippies with dyed hair, hipsters with long hair, and plenty in between.

In true Melbourne fashion, most people stayed still or did a little head nodding without revealing their inner enthusiasm. “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” broke the cool spell and drew out the heaviest applause and a sing-along. “Elephant” was a close second, although it was sadly interrupted by a very awkward minute of reverberating sound issues. The band made a brilliant comeback, only to finish the last ten seconds or so of the song. Luckily, everyone was so enthralled by then, it didn’t really matter.

Jumping straight into the music, frontman Kevin Parker didn’t utter a word until about five songs in. He took the opportunity to shyly ask how everyone was going and amp up the support band. He later wooed the crowd by admitting he’d checked out TI’s Facebook page and discovered the majority of fans were Melbournites in their 18 to 20s. Points scored.

Although I’d expected laid-back, repetitive dreaminess all night long, Tame Impala’s mixed set list of Lonerism and Inner Speaker kept things surprisingly up-beat and rocking. Favourites included “Solitude is Bliss”, “Mind Mischief” and “Desire Be Desire Go”. But in the end, it was all a heady blend of unique talent that I’d gladly see again. Ideally under the real stars, sitting on grass with flowers in my hair. But in the words of Tame Impala, I don’t really mind.

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