Tame Impala – Manchester Arena – 11.02.16
Last Thursday night, Tame Impala took to the stage at Manchester Arena, one of the stops on their greatly anticipated 2016 World Tour. The Aussie band seem to have been unstoppable following the release of their critically acclaimed third album Currents, so it only seemed fair that they played in Manchester’s largest venue.
On arriving at the arena however, it was a bit disappointing to see some of the seats empty. The ground floor was full, but not to the point where venturing out to get a drink meant never seeing your mates again. Perhaps a smaller venue would have been more suitable, but this would prove to be a minor concern for what ended up as a great evening. We arrived in time to see the last few songs of Jagwar Ma, a band also hailing from the summery land of Australian psychedelic rock. They warmed up the crowd well and the Arena buzzed with keen anticipation.
Kevin Parker and his 4 counterparts took to the stage in front of a kaleidoscopic visual arrangement which fizzed with all sorts of colours. They formed a tight unit at the front of the stage but again, it seemed as though the Arena was just that little too big for them. If the band seemed small on the stage, their sound certainly did not. As if to dispel any doubts about their impact, Tame Impala opened with a revving up of noise which paved the way for the set to come. It seemed an assertion that they meant business and after 2 minutes of build up, fans throughout the arena were thirsty for more.
The band then launched into ‘Let It Happen’, a punchy single from their new album. I would say Parker got the crowd singing along, but it really took no effort from him. The band played a mixture of songs off their three albums and each was met with the same response from the crowd: screaming, nostalgia and even elation (I thought one boy in front of us was going to expire from the happiness of seeing Tame Impala live).
As the band made their way through their set, the visuals behind them on the screen went from one frenzy of colour to another in quick succession. The changing colours and patterns, which looked like multi-coloured bacteria moving under a microscope, complimented the music perfectly and added to the whole experience in a way quite difficult to achieve for most live sets, I think.
A highlight was definitely Julien Barbagallo on the drums. He relished the opportunity for a solo on ‘The Moment’ which gave a bit of a variation to the 2 hour set, although we scarcely needed it. What made Tame Impala’s gig so impressionable was how tight they were as a band. When listening to the albums I don’t think you get a good sense of how talented they are as a group of musicians, nor of how well all 5 can play as a unit both on and off the beat.
After disappearing offstage for a moment, Tame Impala came back with ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’, much to the rapture of the crowd. After disappearing for a second time, it really did seem like the end. If Tame Impala’s success continues, I can see every seat in the Arena being filled for their next tour.
Words and photo by Sophie Church