Tame Impala – Spark Arena: October 15, 2022

Tame Impala were last in New Zealand in 2017 and a cancelled show in 2020 meant that Saturday night at Spark Arena was the first time they have performed in NZ in seven years.

Fans have been holding on to tickets and Tame Impala sure did put on an extravagant show to make it worth the wait. 

LadyhawkeOpening for Tame Impala was “New Zealand’s Favourite Lady” Ladyhawke. Kiwi singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Phillipa MargaretPipBrown delivered a catchy set of her top tunes and both the crowd and frontman of Tame Impala Kevin Parker delivered in appreciation for the energy she brought to the start of the show. 

Walking into the arena just as Tame Impala started was like walking into a wall of sound, lights and screaming fans all complemented by the very strong smell of weed.

Thousands of tiny human heads bobbed up and down in the mosh pit and most of the “seated” audience were standing too.

At first it looked like the drummer was rocking a simplified drum kit without cymbals but it turns out the full kit is definitely there, he is just playing more fills than he is playing the actual backbone of the songs.

Tame ImpalaKevin Parker is strutting his iconic Rickenbacker guitar, looking insanely casual for Spark Arena in jeans and a T-shirt. 

“I don’t want to state the obvious but we finally fucking made it back to Auckland.” He laughs with the crowd that screams back to him.

There’s a pretty full band on stage. Congas, two drum kits, bass guitars, electric guitars and eight keyboards/synthesisers in total. 

Midway through the show a Laser appears from the back of the arena, cuts through the haze and slowly draws a square behind the band.

The visuals throughout the night could only be described as truly trippy. There was this intense otherworldly energy like watching a 3D dinosaur movie at age 12 and becoming totally sucked into another universe. 

Blue LED lights silhouette the band and an organ sets the spooky tone of the intro to Posthumous Forgiveness. 

These guys make some proper weird sounds, it is beyond imagination how they do so. 

Live footage of the band is warped and morphed in real time on the gigantic screen behind them. Whoever is smoking weed (at least half of the stadium) is having a great time.

Strobe lights on the massive hits blind the audience and heavy bass thumps in throats. It is becoming a full body experience in some ways. 

Overhead there is a UFO looking ring of lights that looks as if it’s about to teleport the band to outer space. The semicircle of LED’s lining the band’s riser beautifully plays with the smoke, blending red, to purple, to a light pink.

As if the energy wasn’t already at 100% Kevin addressed the audience asking…

“Alright New Zealand, what do you think? Should we change gears? Kick it up a notch?”

And Elephant sure does kick it up a few notches. All the lasers that were hiding for the first half of the set come out to play and if it wasn’t trippy before it is becoming hallucinatory.

His newest song, Lost in Yesterday starts of with an infectiously groovy bass riff slightly reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel.

The raciest animation yet displays on the screen, jumping from portal to portal and from world to world through doorways, a common theme throughout Tame Impala’s cover art. 

It starts to feel a bit like that overhead UFO did transport Spark Arena to another dimension.

Massive waves roll onto the screen in slow motion for Apocalypse Dreams.

The UFO is descending! Slowly moving downwards to rest halfway above the stage while nothing but an arpeggio plays.

The crazy displays of lights and visuals really go hand in hand with the music and only dip down for dramatic effect.

However, despite the crazy perfect pairing of the two, the music without the crazy lighting has the potential to get a bit repetitive after a while.

A single light shines on Kevin for the intro of the next song, as the band sneaks off stage. Suddenly, massive lasers burst into colour and the UFO descends even more to end up only mere centimetres above the stage while smoke bursts out on every side.

Amongst the comotion the band sneaks back on stage and the lights dip to black. The UFO tilts and lifts vertically above the stage while a pink Floyd-esque rainbow appears out of it. 

The UFO is now the one and only attraction.

Words can’t describe the explosion of lights and the crowd’s excitement as the first few notes of Let It Happen play. The contrast from verse to chorus is even more massive when Tame Impala plays this song live.

Confetti guns and smoke machines blow into the air and hide the band behind a wall of glory as the drop hits.

The famous drum intro rings in It Feels Like I’m Only Going Backwards Baby and Kevin gets the audience to sing the chorus which they collectively do a pretty good job of.

At the end of the song Kevin takes the mic for a walk to have a bit of a chat with the audience.

“Talk to me, what’s been going on these last 7 years?” He asks.

Someone yells “It’s my birthday!”

Kevin asks what age they are turning and after the response exclaims…

“18, fuck yeah!”

He goes on to share how it really is crazy how much time has passed since he has been in NZ, seven years to be exact. His last show was postponed because of covid so people have been hanging on to these tickets for a while now. 

“People got tickets when they were like 15 and now they are 18” he exclaims.

“I guess that makes it worth the wait right?”

The audience more than wholeheartedly agrees. 

How much confetti is in these cannons? They go off another two times throughout the night, once during New Person, Same Old Mistakes and once at the end finishing with a bang. Amusingly, each time two guys come on stage with leaf blowers to clear the area. 

The lights, lasers and UFO action only amp up even more as the set gets closer to the finish line, Runway House is a riff heavy rock song that builds up the energy before the Encore songs Less I Know The Better and I Did It For Love.

The whole evening was a 3D rollercoaster of wild visuals, thousands of lasers and extremely danceable psychedelic pop bangers. It would be even more insane to see this kind of performance at a festival as Tame Impala’s music would absolutely guarantee everyone would be dancing until morning. 

Jemilah Ross-Hayes and Koen Aldershof

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Brenna Jo Gotje

Tame Impala: