Tame Impala’s ‘Slow Rush Tour’ Review: New Sounds Cement Rockers’ Status as a Must-See Arena Band

Tame Impala’s 2015 record “Currents” was a modest album which shook the pop landscape, launching Kevin Parker’s one-man band to international fame and headlining gigs. While the first two albums were heavier on psychedelic fuzz, “Currents” amped up the synths on a bed of crisp production and struck gold, with scores of fans to finally match Parker’s indie blog buzz.

Worldwide tours and studio meticulousness led to a five-year wait for Tame Impala’s fourth album, 2020’s “The Slow Rush,” but within weeks of its Valentine’s Day release, the world shut down due to COVID. The record was prescient with its themes of time: things changing quickly, the perception of minutes moving slowly, breathing deep to keep up … and patience. More than two years after the album’s release, a fervent crowd greeted Parker and his touring band at the March 14 stop of their “Slow Rush Tour” at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, having waited years to ditch their masks and dance to the yacht-rock vibes of the “new” record.

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Tame Impala set the tempo with “Rush” opener “One More Year,” where a dazzling light setup synced with crisp audio levels, which are often in peril of bleeding together in a massive open room like the Barclays. Yet every note was audible, with Parker’s falsetto floating on top of the mix. After a few well-manicured tracks, the band switched it up for the deeper cut “Mind Mischief,” with Parker grabbing a guitar and toggling into shaggy rock-band mode. The aural sophistication of the band’s newer tracks created a nice tension with its more rocking fare, including the glam-rock stomp of “Elephant” and fulfilling a fan’s request to play the spiky old B-side “Half Full Glass of Wine.”

In addition to flowing between sounds, the band has perfected the art of tension and release, creating many building moments that, once resolved, had the crowd erupting. Guitar-centric rocker “Apocalypse Dreams” played with the aesthetic visually, merging the crunchy half-time chorus with edible-friendly jumbotron imagery of an epic wave crashing. During an extended riff on the song’s soulful outro, an enormous circular lighting ring started hovering over the band, a strobe-heavy optical illusion of alien abduction. Elsewhere, the extended ending of the “Rush” power ballad “Posthumous Forgiveness” seems destined to remain a part of the group’s setlist, with the band bashing through glitched-out phrasing until all of the instruments except wailing synths drop out for a few tense measures … after which the song explodes again, a bath of strobes and bass baptizing the arena.

Outside of Parker’s singular vision and endearing stage presence — who knew “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” could turn into such a sweet crowd singalong? — the evening’s MVP was drummer Julien Barbagallo, who had the exhausting task of converting studio-fiddled playing into workable live patterns, as well as creating a heavy enough backbone so the rest of the guitars and synths wouldn’t float out to sea.

Despite Parker’s focus on a studio sound, the band’s “Slow Rush Tour” set made it clear that COVID hasn’t dulled the power of its live shows. Walking out, several members of the surprisingly young crowd — a demographic that’s dutifully posted the band’s songs on TikTok — were excitedly chatting about how that was “the best concert I’ve ever been to” and “I would go see them again and again.” If Tame Impala’s dynamic live act is keeping the next generation entertained, the kids will be all right.

Tickets for Tame Impala’s “Slow Rush Tour,” which travels the world through October, are available now.

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