LIVE: Tame Impala - Innerspeaker live from Wave House

CBD softbois Tame Impala return to their riff-heavy roots with a live playthrough of stellar debut album Innerspeaker, in a move that shows how far the band has come but brings the psych-rock purists, the stoners, and the loners back on side.
Posted: 23 April 2021 Words: Tom Curtis-Horsfall

Tame Impala’s transformation over the past decade has been fairly evident - 2020’s The Slow Rush drifted closer to yacht-rock and synth-heavy R&B than previous albums, with Kevin Parker becoming a super-producer for the likes of Lady Gaga and A$AP Rocky in the years since Currents’ success. It was his least critically acclaimed album, with psych-rock purists binning them off as parody-able CBD softbois in some cases.

What better way to replenish the adoration of die-hards and bridge the division of old and new fans than returning to where it began? Performing Innerspeaker in its entirety, that’s how, arguably the origin of antipodean psychedelic rock as we know it. Tracks from Innerspeaker seldom make it into Tame Impala setlists nowadays - unless they’ve been reworked or remixed in some respect - let alone a bevvy of deep cuts and classic jams that we’ve been treated to, hearing the stellar album in its truest form. 

A live playthrough in Wave House where Innerspeaker was recorded (if you’re a fan you would’ve likely recognise the surrounds from various promotional videos over the years), mumbled inter-band chatter swells as we’re given a few shots of the studio’s backdrop; serene coastal vistas with a setting sun in the mix for good measure. Then the transportive, languid guitar line of ‘It Is Not Meant To Be’ hits and we have lift off.

There wasn’t a synth in sight, and it seemed like they enjoyed it - the wig-out during ‘Desire Be, Desire Go’ felt far less orchestrated than anything they’ve performed in recent memory, as they fully leant into the crunchy, distorted riffs whilst the dizzying camerawork revolved around the band. You’re reminded of why flattering (and just) comparisons to The Beatles and The Flaming Lips were bandied about at the time of release.

Parker’s vocals suit the tracks more than ever before also, where his voice was prone to cracking on particular notes in the past - there was a sketchy at a moment during ‘Alter Ego’, but otherwise his John Lennon-esque voice proudly floating atop the mix. Given the lack of chat between songs, maybe he was saving his voice.

Some of these tracks I haven’t heard myself for an age, let alone Kevin Parker and company performing them to a live audience. ‘Jeremy’s Storm’, the Hendrix-y riff of ‘The Bold Arrow Of Time” and surfy ‘I Don’t Really Mind’ all got a run out after a decade in the vault. They certainly lack the complexity of sprawling odysseys like ‘Let It Happen’, but still wail. ‘Runway Houses City Clouds’, one of the most criminally overlooked and under-performed tracks in Parker’s repertoire doesn’t fit that description, however - especially when they snap back into the outro to bookend the performance - and makes you wonder why his love of guitar-driven psychedelia waned as his production chops grew. 

It felt like a rare moment of appreciation for Innerspeaker from Parker himself, who has reluctantly acknowledged it’s mastery - given his well known meticulous behaviour during recording and producing albums it likely serves as a reminder of his novicity. From the outside looking in, a live album playthrough is a welcome move for the stoners and loners that’ve stuck with Tame Impala throughout the past decade.

To hear more from Tame Impala, click here.

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