It won’t be a surprise to regular readers of Urban Landfill, or to those that know me personally, that I like to rock out once in a while. Don’t get me wrong, my days of long-haired-combat-trousered-goatee-devil-bearded-mosh-pitting-Type-O-Negative-worshipping metal insolence are firmly behind me. I can still be a musical reactionary from time-to-time (NEVER LISTEN TO JAZZ), but mostly have a mature sensitivity for a whole range of musical delights, ranging from the operatic, to the experimental. Occasionally, though, all I need is a dirty barre-chord powered out on a bashed-up Gibson and some inaudible half-screamed, half-vomited vocals and the adrenalin kicks in; I’m up-and-away, fist in the air like a Black Panther on steroids.
Yes, I like folk music (stop sniggering at the back), music played by gentle people wearing corduroy and Clarks shoes, but occasionally we all need to let ourselves be dragged to the wolves of Rock Hell by PROPER BANDS! WITH LONG HAIR! WHO DON’T SHAVE! WHO PLAY RIFFS! RIFFS!
Tame Impala are the type of band I get excited about; they have at least some of the above, but they also seem to have captured the imagination of the Rough Trade muso hipster crowd, having sold out tonight’s pre-Reading and Leeds jaunt in support of their new long player Innerspeaker at the trendy Nouveau Casino, together with a night at London’s trendy Cargo a couple of weeks previously.
It’s easy to see why. The Perth, Australia, band tick a lot of the same boxes as guitar bands who have also made the breakthrough over the last couple of years; they share MGMT’s proclaimed love of ‘psychedelia’ (a word I feel less comfortable about using every day), and aren’t afraid to dip their toes into the scary waters of prog, and they also slip easily into the riff-led Zeppelin/Sabbath groove beloved of the mighty Black Mountain.
And when they do slip into a groove, which they do repeatedly in tonight’s setlist, it makes me happy. Admittedly, not as happy as the man in his fifties standing a couple of rows in front of me, dancing with scarily-proficient Indian spiral hand gestures as if he was greeting the sunrise to Hawkwind at the Stonehenge solstice in 1984. Peace! Drugs!Nudity!
But unlike Sleepy Sun, our ‘da Mountain, or the Black Angels, Tame Impala take a more contemporary approach to the heavy-seventies riffage, either indusing it with a more 1960’s Nuggetsy garage sound, like a less scummy Black Lips, or bringing it up to date with more dance-oriented beats. The storming cover of Blue Boy’s1990s dance track Remember Me (see above) being a perfect case in point.Geng gegge-geng geng geng geng-ge-geng ge-ge-geng ge-ge-ge-ge-geng geng ge-geng.
Quirky cover versions aside (they’ve also run with Massive Attack’s Angel in the past, not tonight, alas), the band they most remind me of are Girls, the eclectic low-fi popsters that emerged last year. Like the Girls, Tame Impala have all the hallmarks of developing into a first-rate band. Catch them while you can, they’ll only get better.
Right, I’m off to turn Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train up to 11.
Rock Hard, Rock Animal.