August 22, 2019

Tame Impala played Madison Square Garden

Tame Impala played to a sold-out crowd on their first of two nights at New York's acclaimed Madison Square Garden and brought a show worthy of the legendary venue's reputation.

"Everyone told me this show was going to be a big deal, but I didn't believe them until right now. This is crazy!" exclaimed Tame Impala front-man and overall leader of the band just shortly after the band's incredible set at the World's Most Famous Arena. It's been a long time since the Aussie psych-rockers came to New York, and even longer since they played a non-festival show, so a two-night run at the city's most impressive venue was a pretty tall order for the group and they delivered on all fronts. Kicking it off with "Let It Happen," Kevin Parker and company wasted no time to dive in to the stellar visuals which felt at times a bit like sensory overload, but truly provided as the ultimate backdrop to the group's impressive performance. Confetti shot from canons during the opening song and the energy remained high throughout the night's duration. Technicolor backdrops were perfectly in sync with each track as overlays of Parker blended perfectly with the psychedelic swirls and abstract images that took over the stage. Their set-up appeared quite minimal, guitars, loads of synths, and a pair of drum kits were all the band needed to push their massive sound across the arena and while the lights were astounding, the music really spoke for itself. Overall, the set was a pleasing mix from Lonerism and the band's last album Currents with new tracks "Patience" and "Borderline" finding their way into the set list as well. Each song felt like an epic crowd pleaser and while the band was taken on the status of one of the biggest rock bands in the world, their live show isn't all guitar solos and other thrills, but rather heady sonic textures that find deep grooves and grab hold of the listener's ears while never overwhelming them. It might be easy to draw comparison to '60s acts like Cream or even Zeppelin, but anyone expecting Clapton or Page level solos will be disappointed. However, that's never been the agenda of this band and while drum fills can at time feel like nods to Ginger Baker, they never overpower or take control of a song, but really feel like subtle tributes that become slightly more eccentric when played live. A little past the half-way mark in the set is where the show really takes a turn as the band unveils their absolutely astonishing laser show which feels like a nod to '70s planetarium vibes of Laser Floyd, but really is just another amazing aspect of the band's live performance and something that feels totally their own. Crowd favorites like "Elephant" and "The Less I Know the Better" were fantastic moments that saw the audience really move to the rhythm and never once did the excitement seem to disappear. As the band came back for the encore, the crowd went crazy for "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" as hands took to the air and swayed from side to side before the band ended the night with "New Person, Same Old Mistakes." As Parker has progressed and matured as a songwriter, his band has moved further from the deep psych sounds of InnerSpeaker and more towards the glitzy, disco/yacht-rock sounds that made up Currents and really ring true on their newer tracks, but live, the band encompasses everything for a truly unified performance. As far as rock bands go, they don't get much bigger than Tame Impala at the moment, but few also uphold themselves to the confines of what it means to be a "guitar band" in 2019 and even fewer can somehow pull off the mix of rock and electronics quite like them. Arena rock has never been a trendy term or a level that most aspire to reach, but much like Radiohead, Arcade Fire, or Nine Inch Nails, Tame are redefining what it means to rock an arena. They have a style that makes them on a level all their own and after seeing them own MSG, it seems like Kevin Parker still has more tricks up his sleeve and is ready to make Arena Rock actually aspirational.

Set list

01 "Let It Happen"
02 "Patience"
03 "Led Zeppelin"
04 "The Moment"
05 "Mind Mischief"
06 "Nangs"
07 "Elephant"
08 "Apocalypse Dreams"
09 "The Less I Know the Better"
10 "Borderline"
11 "Love/Paranoia"
12 "Yes I'm Changing"
13 "Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind?"
14 "Eventually"
15 "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards"
16 "New Person, Same Old Mistakes"

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