sat 13/07/2024

Primal Scream, The Haunt, Brighton review - up-close, short, raucous and sweaty | reviews, news & interviews

Primal Scream, The Haunt, Brighton review - up-close, short, raucous and sweaty

Primal Scream, The Haunt, Brighton review - up-close, short, raucous and sweaty

Frenetic small-scale gig by the large-scale rock'n'roll band

Singer Bobby Gillespie preaching the gospel

Primal Scream have played in this city, in the recent past, at the 4,500 capacity Brighton Centre but tonight they’re in a venue which holds well under 400. A bananas atmosphere reigns when bands of their stature play intimate shows, and so it is tonight.

When frontman Bobby Gillespie leads the group on and asks the crowd to join in with their 1991 classic “Movin’ On Up”, they respond as if going into the encore, a mass roared chorus. The evening seems to peak at its start but then maintains that level of excitement throughout.

This a warm-up for forthcoming gigs and festival appearances to promote a new singles collection, so they stick to those. The band have history with Brighton and once held hedonistic court here, back in their early Nineties pomp. Grizzled lags can be overheard telling unprintable stories of long-ago parties, after-parties and after-after-parties. As the Scream chug into the blues-rockin’ “Jailbird” the sing-along doesn’t wane.

Gillespie, still rake thin, is accompanied by riff-master Andrew Innes on guitar, wearing a pork pie hat and Hawaiian shirt, looking like a refugee from a ska band, while the equally long-serving keyboard player Martin Duffy is hidden away at the back. His ability to jump from Rolling Stones honky-tonkin’ to cold hard driving synths is a boon. Bassist Simone Butler has now been with the band seven years and fits well, wearing a deadpan expression and thousand-yard stare for much of the gig.

When they touch on their club phase, it amps the mood of the room still further

The set takes in seldom heard material from before Screamadelica made their name. “Velocity Girl”, which was on the NME’s indie-defining C86 cassette collection, is played clean rather than in its fuzzed, lo-fi recorded incarnation, and they attack “Imperial” and “Ivy Ivy Ivy” with relish, both songs that hail from a period when Primal Scream saw themselves as a latter day, leather-clad Iggy & the Stooges rather than the doyens of club culture they soon briefly became.

When they touch on the latter phase, it amps the mood of the room still further. Gillespie tells how they wanted to create a track to join in with the dance music culture that was exploding as the Eighties drew to a close, how they gave a song to DJ Andrew Weatherall to remix. The result was “Loaded”, their breakthrough hit, and when they play it there’s uproar. At one point Gillespie has the crowd sing the horn part and it’s almost as loud as the band. Weatherall can be seen, stock still amid the leaping melee behind the bar where special guests are viewing proceedings. Hairy and heavily bearded, he looks like a latter day mage, his features impassive but for, perhaps, the hint of a smile.

They follow it with "Country Girl", their last major hit, 13 years and four albums ago. It has become a live gem and today they milk it, taking the sound down to nothing before letting it explode again. There are other highlights, notably the scorching assault of “Swastika Eyes”, and an enjoyable moment where we’re asked to choose between mid-Nineties numbers “Star” and “(I’m Gonna) Cry Myself Blind”. The latter’s Seventies-style balladry takes the day after much shouted back’n’forth.

The set is only around an hour-and-ten-minutes long but it packs a punch. The encore includes the stark, dark machine-funk relentlessness of “Kill All Hippies”, a song that’s dated well, but they conclude with the anthemic “Rocks”. The crowd is now so sweatily packed in and moving so feverishly that the sprung floor shifts about as if it were the deck of a ship at sea (or about to give way!). The raucousness is so enthused that even bassist Simone Butler cracks a wide smile. It’s a joyful end to a special night

Below: watch Primal Scream play "Movin' On Up" live on Chris Evans radio show, May 2019

At one point Gillespie has the crowd sing the horn part and it’s almost as loud as the band


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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