Gig Review by Toni Woodward with Photography by John Bentley

Tame Impala, Birmingham Institute, 14-7-14

D.D Dumbo (real name Oliver Perry) is a solo artist who hails from Castlemaine, Australia and produces loop driven experimental music. Perry claims that he is inspired by world music and this influence is clearly heard throughout his set, ranging from Indian devotional to American Blues. His vocals have a Dan Auerbach quality and he layers guitar riffs, percussion and panpipes to create a sound that has amazing depth for a solo performer. D.D Dumbo is a popular choice with the sell-out audience and a perfect warm up choice for the headline act, Tame Impala.

DD Dumbo, Birmingham Institute, 14-7-14

Tame Impala is the brainchild of Australian musician, Kevin Parker, and the band have come to prominence in the last four years, mostly noticeably with their second album Lonerism that received critical acclaim. They have become so popular recently that despite being on the balcony, I am unable to see most of the stage so this review is written predominantly from what I could hear rather than see. The five piece band enters to a slowed down version of The Circle Of Life, bathed in psychedelic lights and begin with Be Above It, the opening track of Lonerism. The vibrations flood the venue as the repetitive, trance like music encapsulates the audience. Visuals cover the whole stage and consist of patterns and images that are reminiscent of early 90’s rave videos which is an apt choice considering the sound being produced, allowing for a multi-sensory experience. After the brief instrumental of Sestri Levante, Parker addresses the crowd in a slightly uncomfortable manner yet with sincerity and then moves the set along with Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind? taken from their first album, Innerspeaker.

Tame Impala, Birmingham Institute, 14-7-14

As the gig proceeds, audience participation increases and, during Why Won’t They Talk To Me? the majority of the ground floor are moving leading Parker to comment that “Birmingham folk like to go a bit crazy”. At which point he unleashes the tour de force of Elephant, a thumping track that incorporates a Black Sabbath inspired bass line that counter balances the higher pitched vocals that sit relatively low in the mix. As the track draws to a close, the drummer, Julien Barbagallo, provides an extended drum solo leaving the song on a high. The Cream influenced riff of Half Full Glass Of Wine drives on, what was for me, the track of the night and saw crowd surfing aplenty whilst more mature members of the audience embraced the groove with their feet on terra firma. The “New Jam” that follows, is of a slower pace and presents a Laurel Canyon atmosphere to the proceedings, which reminds me of Jonathan Wilson’s work and is a very pleasing alternative direction that Parker is exploring.

Tame Impala, Birmingham Institute, 14-7-14

Tame Impala, Birmingham Institute, 14-7-14

The main bulk of the set finishes with Alter Ego and the lengthy psych-rock opus Apocalypse Dream both of which allow time for your mind to wander, in true psych fashion. The band returns to play the instrumental, Auto Prog III and then after slightly unpopular comments about National France Day moves onto Feels Like We Only Go Backwards and Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control. The encore did not maintain the enthusiasm and energy that had been whipped up by the main set, I think they should have altered the set slightly and ended the night with Elephant instead, however, I doubt there were many complaints. Tame Impala truly create an eclectic mix of musical styles, psychedelic rock powers through whilst electronica and trance based bands such as The Orb have a distinct influence going via shoe gazing indie, and at times the vocals call to mind MGMT.

Tame Impala, Birmingham Institute, 14-7-14

Parker embraces the world of pop too, noting the impact of Supertramp upon his music. This amalgamation calls you to question how Tame Impala are so popular, not in a derogatory way, more in the suggestion that this is not a typically commercial combination; but somehow, Parker has struck gold and is producing authentic music that is appealing to an array of ages and tastes. They played a magnificent set and looking at the state of people leaving the venue, many had a physical musical experience. I am just sorry that the gig was so busy that many people, including myself, were unable to fully embrace the event and had to settle for just listening at the back with poor quality sound.

Tame Impala, Birmingham Institute, 14-7-14

Set List:
Be Above It
Solitude Is Bliss
Sestri Levante
Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?
It Is Not Meant to Be
Why Won’t They Talk to Me?
Elephant
Endors Toi
Oscilly
Mind Mischief
Half Full Glass of Wine
New Jam
Alter Ego
Apocalypse Dreams
Encore:
Auto-Prog III
Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control

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