Tame Impala at Granada Theater: Review
It was symbolic in more ways than one. The sweet and skunky smell of high quality weed that hit you upon entering the Granada last night provided a kind of bridge back to the '60s and early '70s. The music of that era has provided the DNA for the woozy psych rock that Kevin Parker has recorded as Tame Impala. And like the weed of today has been jacked into a super drug in comparison to what was smoked back then, so too has the music Parker and his mates delivered to the packed theater.
Photo by Bill Ellison/The Granada
Taking the stage at a relatively early 9:45, Parker and company looked suited for their roles. Barefoot and lanky, Parker strapped on a Rickenbacker and launched into a jam that laid to rest any doubts about the band's ability to deliver the flanged and layered sound of Parker's recordings. And while the albums can make for kind of spacing listening, live the music it was bruisingly loud. The jam eventually turned into "Apocalypse Dream" and delivered with far more punch than the album. Credit that to the solid foundation provided by drummer Julien Barbagallo and bassist Nick Allbrook. Barbagallo played with muscle throughout the evening, even delivering a short drum solo in another tip of the hat to that bygone era.
The set was balanced between Tame Impala's two impeccable albums, and delivered nearly non-stop over the next 60 minutes. While Parker's voice seemed in nasally good form, the lyrics were really beside the point. Most songs began/ended with a meandering jam before breaking into a recognized album cut. Crowd favorites? Really, every song was a crowd favorite, although maybe "Elephant" elevated an already frenzied audience. There was crowd surfing, dancing in the isles, and at least three limp bodies carried out to be revived in the cold night air.
After a short break -- with someone on the PA urging the crowd to call them back for more (???) -- the band came back to finish. Checking set lists from stops on the tour, it looks like the song was probably "Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control." My ears and everything between them were mush at that point.
Opening the evening was follow Perth band The Growlers. Another salute to the era of blues rock pioneers like Free, the band played a well-executed set. With two drummers and a standup bass behind a charismatic singer and guitarist, it was a good way to start a retro night. Even the singer's "thank you, Houston" gaff as they cranked up their last song was kind of endearingly vintage.