Tame Impala – Beacon Theatre – November 10, 2014
What is it they say about Broadway, something about how there’s always magic in the air? Australian rockers Tame Impala made the move uptown this week to the Beacon Theatre, playing the second of two-sold out shows last night and there was plenty of magic in the air as the five-piece proved that they’re a perfect fit for a show right there on Broadway. After a mesmerizing set of instrumental guitar music from Delicate Steve, the Perth quintet took the stage as the electronic drums of “Be Above It” set the tone, green oscilloscope lights on the backdrop twinkling in time to the beat. As Kevin Parker’s zone-out vocals echoed, the sights and sounds grew more chaotic, the band arching orbital sounds through the venue.
The tone firmly set, the rest of the show was a majestic 80-minute psychedelic rock–and-lights masterpiece: immersive and transforming. On a day when many in the music world were discussing a new Pink Floyd release, on songs like “Solitude Is Bliss,” Tame Impala felt like the real thing at their peak, mixing prog and psych, groove and full-throated rock outs while every color of the rainbow zapped through the room in time to the music. In working through most of their 2012 LP, Lonerism, they showed there’s plenty of life in slow, otherworldly groovers like “Why Won’t They Talk to Me?” and big time arena-rock bliss in “Elephant.” There was one moment during “Endors Toi” when the group seemed to make science, ’70s prog rock and the slow clap seem cool again in one single passage, the crowd holding the beat, the band tripping hallucinogenic in synth and guitars and the backdrop going full on mathematical. Keeping with the theme, in the intro to “Mind Mischief,” Parker turned to face the screen behind him as it buzzed into shapes following his distorted guitar solo, like he was painting psychedelic patterns with his music, science meets art in Technicolor.
Of course, there were plenty of bits of esoteric instrumentals and extended jams throughout the performance, but they felt earned, part of the journey and not the destination itself. The growing entropy of the show met its end with the set-closing “Apocalypse Dreams,” the oscilloscope imagery a Crayola box of squiggles seeming to rush out at the geeked audience while the band built to a final climax. With a crowd-pleasing, sing-along encore of “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” it appeared that what they say about Broadway, at least as far as Tame Impala are concerned, is true after all. —A. Stein