Testifying with Primal Scream
Bobby Gillespie is the least likely rock God, slightly fey, gauche with limited stage presence and no real sense of rhythm, but boy do his band, Primal Scream, make a magnificent sound. On Monday night at the Academy in Leeds, Bobby asked an expectant crowd whether they were ready to testify before leading an earth shaking set comprising a full reading of 1991’s dance rock psychedelic album, Screamadelica!
Some remember him as the less than visionary drummer (see above for comments on his ‘rhythm’) of the visionary Jesus and Mary Chain, but twenty years ago Bobby and Primal Scream discovered dance, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll and the results were truly memorable for those listening, if not by those making the music! This is the band that nearly finished off Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan when he tried to keep up with their version of rock ‘n’ roll Babylon.
The album is best known for the singles ‘Moving on up’ and ‘Loaded’, but it is much more than that as the Scream ably demonstrated. Wisely the band didn’t stick to the track listing on the album and ensured that other highlights like ‘Higher than the Sun’, ‘Come together’ and ‘Don’t fight it feel it’ were spread across the set to ensure allow some relief from some of the more self indulgent, psychedelic moments (‘Shine like stars’ being a case in point).
I was keen to see how the band would recreate Andy Weatherall’s stylised production on stage and whether it would limit the power and joy created during those highlights on the CD. Live these tracks offered much more than purely listening to the CD, they were louder, better, more euphoric, more screamadelic, the crowd’s response adding to the experience. At one point during “Don’t fight it, Feel it”, I was truly concerned for Bob’s recently detached retina such was the volume and intensity of the performance. ‘Higher than the sun’, a favourite of mine was rendered brilliantly with us witnessing one great bassist, Mani imitating (initially) the style of the track’s original great bassist, the mighty Jah Wobble. As Mani said at the end, ‘Not bad for a bunch of old c***s.
The set closed with ‘Come Together’ which felt as relevant today as ever given its references to taxation and facing into hardship together. This meant we ended on a high rather than the low that would have been the aforesaid ‘Shine like stars’.
I thought that would be it, but Bobby and the band were up for an encore and for this they returned to their more familiar Rolling Stone/ Black Crowes guise playing us out with stage diving, chant-along versions of ‘Country Girl’, ‘Jailbird’ and ‘Rocks’. All big dumb, grin inducing anthems and so much the better for it!!
All in all a very happy Monday(!) evening, only marred by the realisation that the twenty years since Screamadelica was released have flown by so quickly.
Thanks to Tony for the pics