LIVE REVIEW: Primal Scream @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney (05/12/12)


by Chris Familton

The Delta Riggs were given the task of warming up the arriving punters and though there were only a handful present at the start of their set, by its conclusion there was a healthy contingent showing their appreciation for a committed and entertaining set. The Delta Riggs are a band that have studied their heroes with forensic precision – they sound like them, look like them, move like them and most importantly they effectively replicate them. It is impossible to not play spot the influences with their overt nods to the likes of The Black Crowes, Led Zeppelin and indeed Primal Scream. They do it well though and in a track called America they showed a different sound, nailing a great soul groove like The Afghan Whigs.

Primal Scream have visited a few times in recent years and without a new album to promote there was a chance that the show might lack focus. Thankfully those fears didn’t manifest themselves as they set about playing a well curated selection of songs from across their three decade career. Perhaps as a statement of contemporary relevance they opened with 2012, one of two new tracks they played from their forthcoming album. Musically speaking it was a solid if unspectacular start combining a groove-establishing mood with a typical Primals anthemic chorus delivered in Bobby Gillespie’s unmistakable slack-jawed drawl of a voice.

From there the set took diverse swings into the main sonic cornerstones of the band’s back catalogue with industrial menace of Swastika Eyes and Accelerator, the smiley-faced pill euphoria of the Screamadelica era and their often derided yet now essential forays into Stones/Faces swaggering rock. Songs from Screamadelica sounded the least convincing with the samples, piano chords and faux gospel pleadings of Movin’ On Up and Come Together very much locked into the sound of the early 90s. That isn’t to say the band were any less committed to those songs. Gillespie swayed, bounced and sashayed around the stage with that blank expression and thousand yard stare, intermittently engaging directly with the audience to urge them to sing along. Andrew Innes was resplendent in leather pants and a sparkling shirt, guarding his side of the stage with a touch of the Keith Richards about him while the rest of the band hit their marks. Brand new bassist Simone Butler looked nervous but her playing was a perfect mix of drive and groove that easily filled the Mani-sized hole in the band.

The highlights of the 90 minute set were a rousing rendition of Country Girl, the show closer Rocks and a devastating version of Shoot Speed/Kill Light. The latter was the perfect example of how Primal Scream explode genres and rearrange the shattered fragments into songs that sound definitively theirs. Its krautrock rhythms, narcotic blur, heavy mood and attention to sonic detail provided a feeling of lift-off to the show and it was only after that song that they really dropped their shoulders and began to sound as relaxed and revelatory as they can. This was Primal Scream celebrating their past and preparing for the future.

this review was first published on FasterLouder

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