Primal Scream, Brighton Dome | reviews, news & interviews
Primal Scream, Brighton Dome
Primal Scream, Brighton Dome
Ever-mutating rock veterans catch a fire on the south coast
Like the sex life of a long-married couple, it’s not every night that a band who’ve been around for over three decades will catch the unfettered frisson of their wildest moments. For the first half of their set, despite frontman Bobby Gillespie assuring us the just-rendered version of recent single “100% Or Nothing” was “maybe the best ever”, the gig didn’t take off. It was another decent roll in the sack, a band on tour searching for the sweet spot, another rock’n’roll night. Then, well over halfway through, with the caustic, siren-enhanced assault of 1999’s “Swastika Eyes”, they found what they were looking for, some sort of psychic combustion. From there on, Primal Scream were unstoppable, with the near full venue vocally egging them on.
Gillespie, in black, overlaid with a pink box jacket, the very definition of spindly, initially leads his troupe on and plays a riffy, bar band version of “Movin’ On Up” which has little of the original’s bubbling euphoria. Steadfast guitarist Andrew Innes, clad in dark green tartan trousers, black shirt, shoestring tie and porkpie hat, is a lethally precise resource, capable of whatever’s required, from tiny tints to walls of noise. Unfortunately, on a couple of numbers, the otherwise funky “(Feeling Like A) Demon Again” and “100% Or Nothing”, it’s all a bit Edge-out-of-U2. Svelte mini-dress-clad bassist Simone Butler, however, keeps the rhythm section wriggling.
They're now not old lags going through the motions but a force to be reckoned with
This year’s album, Chaosmosis is a curious beast. The intent is admirable, to explore gothic electro-pop, new territory for Primal Scream, but the results seemed forced and sometimes unconvincing. Live, songs from it such as “Where the Light Gets In”, “Golden Rope” and “Trippin’ On Your Love” are not stinkers, they’re OK, but they never achieve greatness. Perhaps it takes a while for the Scream to grow into song. “Country Girl” is a decent enough Lynyrd Skynyrd-ish 2006 single, but when they play it as their final pre-encore number, they turn it into something magnificent. They're now not old lags going through the motions but a force to be reckoned with, bringing a communal party. There's masses of audience participation as they take the song down to just crowd handclap percussion, then bring it back up again in a cannonade of good time rock'n'roll.
Primal Scream, after “Swastika Eyes”, aren’t going through the motions, and nor are we. They seem to enter the songs, jamming them, extending them, seeing where they go, like some lysergically fuelled Sixties band at the Filmore, with no curfew to think of. They fuel the audience and the audience fuels them. “Loaded” – of course – brings everyone to their feet, a generational anthem, and rows of greying men suddenly bend ape-like and start doing their version of the “baggy” Bez/Ian Brown dance, watched by their shimmying women (who, overall, look in a lot better shape, frankly!). Keyboard player Martin Duffy comes into his own, working the chiming melodies at the tune’s heart, while maraca-shaking Gillespie becomes his band’s own hype man.
The encore consists of Nineties ecstasy classic “Come Together”, with a rapped beatnik intro by Gillespie, the whole turning the crowd into a raucous choir. It’s followed by a monster take on “Rocks”, the Scream’s own Aerosmith moment, which sees Innes mutate into a bluesy riff-monster and, once again, engenders a huge sing-along. Gillespie, an often taciturn man, whose chat during the concert mainly consists of mumbled inaudible asides, seems genuinely moved at the end by the crowd reaction, the sense of a good party executed well. “We love you,” he says as he leaves last. Against the odds his band, often dismissed as vintage rock copyists, retain a totemic, generational power, and prove themselves capable of climatic explosiveness. The crowd left sated, perhaps ready for a post-coital smoke.
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