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LIVE – PRIMAL SCREAM, Perth, 11th December 2012

| 3 January 2013 | Reply

With Sugar Army
The Astor Theatre, Perth, Western Australia
Tuesday 11th December 2012
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by J F Foto

Primal Scream are an English institution who have largely reinvented themselves with each successive album since their breakthrough, 1991’s Screamadelica, which echoed the ecstasy craze of the time.  Future albums had their creative gestation in a varying chemical environment – speed, heroin and cocaine all played their part in shaping The Scream’s catalogue, each period of the band’s history reflecting their drugs of choice of the time.

After catching their set at 2011’s Perth Big Day Out, where they paid homage to that wonderful album by playing it in it’s entirety, this reviewer approached tonight’s show with no small amount of trepidation:  22 months ago they were lack-lustre, listless, going through the motions.  Was it an off night?  Would we see a fire in their belly tonight?

Support is ably provided by Sugar Army, delivering an assured set of psychedelia-tinged darkpop as the ornate theatre filled up.  Powered along by their hair-flailing Animal-alike drummer, and summoning up a wall of sound like U2 channelling The Doors with help from The Killers, the theatre reverberates with their tunes, making punters stop and stare with interest.

The Theatre (it’s so much more than a ‘room’!) is heaving at bursting point by the time the smoke machine is creating moodscapes on stage, and the roadies start cracking the tops off a few drinks ready for the muso’s to take the stage in front of the mixed crowd – curious youth, ageing hipsters recalling glorious times two decades hence, and true fans mingle with anticipation, all realising that a Tuesday night is a necessary sacrifice to see The Scream.

Primal Scream Live Perth 11 Dec 2012 by J F Foto  (10)

Opening with brand new, unheard track 2012, Bobby Gillespie is all hangover chic in a nudie shirt, impossibly thin for a man of his vintage, lurching into the red strobe light frenzy of Swastika Eyes, the sound throbbing and pulsing around The Astor.

Move It On Up from Screamadelica is everything it wasn’t at the previous gig mentioned above:  transcendental and unapologetic for it’s use of recorded backing vocals.

A cover of The 13th Floor Elevators lost classic Slip Inside This House was next up, and with Mani back in The Stone Roses, this number gives the dapper suit and Colonel Sanders-tie sporting Debbie Googe (formerly of My Bloody Valentine) a chance to crank up the heavy bottom end, before a devastatingly intense Accelerator just about blows a hole in the back wall.

There’s Damaged, before another new tune, Relativity, bodes very well for their forthcoming 2013 album.  It’s at this point – 45 minutes into the show – that Gillespie, not the chattiest of hosts, finally speaks to the sold out Astor.  “How you doing Perth?”  Content to let his rapture with the music do most of the talking – perhaps in deference to his broad Scottish brogue – he rips and tears straight into It’s Alright, That’s Ok, continuing to channel The Stones through their dance, punk, folk influences.

Unholy, shamanistic and wild, The Scream run through Burning Wheel and Shoot Speed/Kill Light before an extended Come Together summons The Rapture, Gillespie holding court like a surly-mannered witch doctor, orchestrating a beautifully vocal singalong.

To further accentuate the Rolling Stones fixation, they segue into semi-acoustic romp Country Girl to close out the main set, Gillespie – as always – more Keef than Mick, louche and indolent rather than preening and narcissistic.

There was only a short wait for the band to assume their positions for the encore:  a four track masterblast through I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have, which evolved into the swirling Loaded (it’s own remix, in a sense), and the Exile On Main Street-alike Jailbird and Rocks:  the latter the best live song The Stones never wrote, and as the lights flicker, feedback squeals and kisses are thrown from the stage, it’s over.

On this night Primal Scream succeed where they failed at that Big Day Out show – they draw together all the different sonic elements with which they have experimented over more than two decades, presenting it cohesively and with real rock n’ roll danger, a Stonesy blend of riffs and soul, songwriting and melody: anarchic drug fuelled beligerance and commercial wonder, confronting and irresistible at the same time, making this a late contender for one of the best live sets of the year.

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Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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