Tame Impala - Sydney Opera House Forecourt

Written by David James Young

Tame Impala - Sydney Opera House Forecourt

Sonically and stylistically, Mini Mansions are a complementary fit to tonight’s headliners. The trio embrace a more left-of-centre take on the indie-pop spectrum’s synthier side. Although their second LP, March’s The Great Pretenders, didn’t exactly wow, there’s a bit more going on when the songs are replicated in the live environment.

For one, frontman Michael Schuman is (quite impressively) singing and drumming simultaneously, flurrying about a stand-up kit and occasionally incorporating pads and triggers into the mix. There’s also suited-up bassist Zach Dawes, who exudes a notable stage presence and elicits some of the biggest reactions from the audience; whom, it seems, are more content with talking over the band in the overwhelming majority. A pity – Mini Mansions are deserving of a proper chance.

All the telling signs were there that this was going to be an excitable audience – the constant surging forward, the overjoyed screaming anytime a light or a screen effect was tested – but the reaction sparked when Kevin Parker and co. made their way onto stage was borderline deafening. That said, it’s not just the fact the crowd is incredibly loud that explains why the mix is initially so low. As Parker shares one of his key mantras from one of the year’s biggest alternative hits (“Let it happen, let it happen”); the crowd boisterously shares one of their own (“Turn-it-up! Turn-it-up!”).

It’s not surprising that the crowd gets its way and the sound issue is rectified – this is altar worship, through and through; and nothing’s going to stop the wheels from turning. The crowd sings every word, as well as – in a move only ever seen at British festivals – providing hearty “do-do-doo”s along with every big riff and guitar break. Even tricks that have been staples of Tame Impala’s live show for years – the phasers on the drum mics, the trippy visual backdrops – inspire complete awe from the greater devotional.

For those that have been seeing them for the last half-decade and change, it’s primarily business as usual; but overwhelming enthusiasm from younger attendees breathes new life into the show, giving one a greater appreciation for what it is they are doing up there.

The trainspotters get their moments, too – although nothing from their EP is touched, deep-cuts from Lonerism (Why Won’t They Talk to Me, finale Nothing That Has Happened…) and Innerspeaker (It is Not Meant to Be, Alter Ego) make their presence felt. Keyboardist Jay Watson also confirms the debut of Currents number Yes I’m Changing in the live setting; and it’s a welcome addition amid the better-known numbers such as a truly gargantuan Elephant and a blissful Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind? 

As the night draws to a close, Parker can’t help but be in utter awe of both his immediate surroundings and the vast nature of the performance itself. It takes all but one look around during Feels Like We Only Go Backwards to see exactly where the guy’s coming from.


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