THE BEGINNING

A late-set technical glitch forced the band off stage, but it didn’t stop Kevin Parker from owning his Primavera moment.

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Tame Impala, @ Primavera Sound, Barcelona, Thursday 2 June, 2016

Within the space of three albums, Kevin Parker has somehow fashioned a one-man band preoccupied with emotional isolationism and relationship breakdown into one of the biggest festival draws on the planet. “I’ve been waiting for this a long time,” Parker says of his headlining slot tonight. “Too long,” he adds slightly darkly, as though 2013’s appearance further down the bill in the sunshine didn’t cut it.

Tonight there can be no doubt that, along with a certain James Murphy on the opposite stage, the show belongs to Parker. Spirograph neon visuals and subaqueous synths herald the live debut of ‘Nangs’ from last year’s chart-eating ‘Currents’ LP as Tame Impala kick off in front of a fittingly ginormous crowd, who in turn roar their approval as Parker steers the band through ‘Let It Happen’ and its bass-heavy, gut-wobbling coda, then rapturously receive ‘Mind Mischief’ straight afterwards.

There was disquiet in some quarters of the music press last year that ‘Currents’ was too electronic; too far removed from the psych-rock boilerplate Parker had stamped so successfully onto ‘Lonerism’ a few years ago. Here though, all doubt surely dissipates hearing songs like ‘The Less I Know the Better’ alongside ‘Mind Mischief’ and ‘Elephant’. Parker’s songs actually all tend to emanate from the same place: front-and-centre elastic bass lines, Parker’s crystalline vocals and a keen sense of what makes a pop song work – regardless of the amount of synthesiser involved.

All of which makes it a crying shame when proceedings come to a juddering halt midway through ‘Eventually’, barely an hour into their planned 100-minute set. After the sound drops seemingly intentionally during the track’s euphoric chorus so that Parker can lead a sing-along, it soon becomes apparent that there are problems afoot. Parker gamely claps his hands and tries to gee up the crowd but the lights dim, most of the crowd slope off elsewhere and though power eventually returns for another three tracks, it’s a slightly limp finish to an otherwise imperious performance from unquestionably one of the brightest talents around. Even with the interruption Parker claimed his Primavera moment.

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