REVIEW: Primal Scream @ Brighton Dome, 14/12/2016

The Verse’s Lorenzo Ottone witnesses how Primal Scream still prove to be a party machine after more than 30 years on the scene.

A crowd of middle-aged ‘90s raves survivors- half of whom in Stone Roses Adidas cagoules show the sign of the time and half turned into posh hipsters-wannabe in patterned shirts and refined beards- and a tired-looking Bobby Gillespie still in his Glastonbury 2013 pink-and-black suit are the first impressions of a Primal Scream gig, but the Scottish front man still has the energy, the tunes and the power to make everyone dance as it was 1991 again.

In charge to open the night is London-based Japanese combo Bo Ningen, definitely a band to watch. It is known that Japanese are always avant-garde and ground-breaking in their attachment to traditions. Bo Ningen’s fuzzy and reverberating ‘70s dark and doomed psych-krautrock stands out from the endless number of indie fuzzy bands burgeoned in the last couple of years.

The stage performance is their ace in the sleeve. An androgynous look made of elbow-long hair, army coats and even skirts reminding of the samurai tradition is matched with a nearly self-destructive energy which can be compared to the early Who. Guitars rotating into the air, strident feedback with solos brought to their extremes and the singer sitting on a speaker down the stage posing for the audience’s cameras with his guitar turning into a samurai sword. An impressive example of Japan’s capability to capture Western music and fashion to then turn them into original forms of art.
Just a brief selection of psych and blues raw tunes before primal Scream step on stage kicking-off with the gospel-blues of Movin’ on up. With a generation-defying cult album as Screamadelica and dozens of anthems part of Britain’s pop culture, a best of gig is inevitable. And Primal Screams should be praised because they do not insist with newer and less incisive material. They know the crowd is mainly there for the hits and they deliver them in a killer-series with loads to teach to newcomers.

The swaggering blues-rock à la Stones of Jailbird and Country Girl mixes with the psychedelic acid house trance of Higher Than The Sun and Loaded, which turns the Dome into a ‘90s rave. The space left to the last two albums More Light (2013) and Chaosmosis (2016) is limited to the new-wave synth-led single Where The Light Gets In.
Gillespie looks slightly worn-out by the years. His voice is often overwhelmed by the exaggerate instruments volume as in Swastika Eyes. He seems one of those ‘50s rock ’n roll stars still performing and trying to have their say in the a-changing ‘60s. His determination, though, is heroic and nearly amusing.

He swirls fists to the audience as a ‘70s footballer after scoring a goal, smiling pleased as his songs still are game winners. House-meets-gospel anthem Come Together shows Gillespie’s standing firmness in his left-winged ideals and leads the night to an end with Rocks. Primal Scream are not only about nostalgia, they still got it. A band to see if you still haven’t.

The Verse Staff

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