Review: Tame Impala at the Bell Centre

Tame Impala. Photo Michael Eidelson Tame Impala. Photo Michael Eidelson

Written by Michael Eidelson

Kevin Parker, or as most people know him under his widely recognized pseudonym Tame Impala, has come a long way from his EPs back in the late 2000s. Each song he writes and pieces together translates flawlessly onto the live stage. From the perspective of a long time fan of Tame Impala, it has been fascinating to witness the growth of Kevin’s work into what we have become so familiar with all these years. Innerspeaker, their debut album that came out in 2010, established the kind of sound that would resonate in future releases from the genius mind of Kevin Parker. Years later, Tame Impala are still able to perform songs off Innerspeaker and make them sound like they could have ended up on a deluxe edition of their most recent critically acclaimed album Currents.

It was my first time attending a show at the Bell Centre and I wasn’t sure how to visualize the scope of the concert. I’ve only been told that it’s HUGE and the people I attended with couldn’t believe that Tame Impala was finally playing a show there. After walking into the giant venue, I was taken back by all the people that were there. I’ve been to many shows before but nothing that was as grand as this one. We sat directly across from the stage on the other side of the venue and waited patiently for the band to take make their way out.

Thousands of fans could be seen eagerly waiting at the ground floor of the venue where everyone wore their trippiest attire of tie-dye shirts and headbands. After waiting for what felt like an eternity, the lights dimmed and the crowd roared with excitement. It was the moment that everyone had been waiting for all these months: Tame Impala finally took the stage.

“Nangs”, which comes off their latest 2015 record Currents, was the opening track to their set. Even though the band had played many shows between this one and the release of their last LP, “Nangs” was a fresh addition to their live set. It was a beautiful start to a spectacular night. “Nangs” slowly transitioned into one of the lead singles off of Currents, “Let It Happen”. Watching the drum fills being performed live on this track made me feel inspired to really engage with understanding the different layers presented for each song.

This is when I became extremely envious for those lucky enough to be on the dance floor. Confetti shot out from the front of the stage onto the likes of many Tame Impala fanatics. Waves upon waves of psychedelic rock fans could be seen jumping up and down to the trippy visuals and sounds provided by the Australian musicians. After playing the first two songs to their set, they took the time to introduce themselves to Montréal. After a short introduction from Kevin and friends, they returned right back to playing their notorious jams.

Kevin had a unique piece of equipment hooked up to his guitar that also attached to a projector. An image of a tiny dot displayed on a giant screen behind them that hosted the cool visuals for the show. At certain points during the night, Kevin would play his guitar and the small dot would shift in a sporadic manner on the screen. Doing this created shapes that were reflective of the way that Kevin would played his guitar. Much later into the show he took the time to toy around with the unique setup and displayed cool patterns on the screen. Seeing the band all have a genuinely fun time in front of an intimidatingly large amount of people was a cool part of the experience.

“Elephant” made the entire auditorium go wild and burst with energy. The kick from the drum was addictive as it kept spirits high and endlessly dancing. They managed to make the song sound fresh by putting a cool spin on it with a unique jam session in the midst of the performance. Towards the end of the song there was a wicked drum solo to close out the popular track.

The audience fed off the tremendous stage presence that Tame Impala brought to Bell Centre. Sheer joy was felt from person to person which created a comfortable environment that was accepting to everyone in attendance.

A handful of the setlist was pulled from their albums Lonerism and Currents which greatly exhibits the creative imagination of Kevin Parker’s work. However, because the songs were being performed live, they sounded new with unique takes on each track that can not be heard on the studio versions of the songs.

They closed out the main set with “Apocalypse Dream,” which put me and the rest of the audience into a trance. The song made me feel euphoric and utterly grateful that I got the opportunity to attend such a beautifully executed performance. It also made me appreciate the hard work that can be seen in their performance, it was truly an impressive spectacle for all of us to gaze upon.

As each member left the stage, a constant wall of screams could be heard within the confines of the Bell Centre. Everyone craved more from the psychedelic rock band and wouldn’t leave until the demand was met. Lucky for us, they were more than willing to oblige to our plea for more.

They returned to the stage with plenty of colourful lights flashing every which way to indicate the start of the encore. As soon as the first chord for “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” played, cries of glee encompassed the venue. Nothing but the utmost positive vibes could be felt from everyone attending, which made for a beautiful experience. “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” was the perfect song to conclude the whole night. Confetti could be seen flying everywhere as people celebrated the joyous occasion of seeing Tame Impala perform their trippy tunes to the masses.

I left the Bell Centre absolutely astonished by the way that Kevin Parker and his fellow band mates presented themselves on stage. The only thing on my mind the rest of the night was how much I enjoyed the concert and how happy it made me feel during the entire performance. Now the only thing I can think about is when I’ll have the chance to see them play a live show again. If they are heading to your city, there is no reason that you shouldn’t try to get tickets.