Primal Scream: acid house hedonists, indie rock’n’rollers, krautrock politicos. A band who have built a 30 year career on the art of reinvention. Their latest album ‘Chaosmosis’ has seen them take another unexpected turn following the success of ‘More Light’ in 2013, taking them into lighter, synth-pop territory; surprising given the band are not usually into half measures. This is a different group though; their numbers have shrunk and the infamous excesses of the past are long gone. However one thing is for sure, there’s nothing like a homecoming show to bring out that old rock’n’roll spirit.
They kick things off with two of the strongest songs from ‘Chaosmosis’, ‘100% or Nothing’ and ‘Where the Light Gets In’. Hannah Marsden of The Snides takes on the vocals originally sung by the Haim sisters and Sky Ferreira on the record, providing impressive harmonies with Gillespie’s reedy vocals. The latter is perhaps the most radio-friendly song heard from Primal Scream in years, seeing them undergo their own mini modern pop makeover. Its explosive synthesisers and cascading guitar solos give it a disco flare; it’s only a pity they don’t take advantage of the massive disco ball overhead.
It must be said that ‘Chaosmosis’ isn’t perfect and can be slightly lightweight at times. However, it sounds much better live when everything is louder and fuller, layered with heavy synths and accompanied by visually dynamic lighting. The fuzzy head-rush inducing ‘When the Blackout Meets the Fallout’ and ‘Screamadelica’ throwback ‘Trippin’ On Your Love’ are particularly impressive.
Only five songs from ‘Chaosmosis’ are played throughout the night with the majority of the setlist being used to weave in and out of the band’s back catalogue. Few bands have the range of material to pull from like Primal Scream, which is perhaps indicative of the big age range in the crowd, but it’s clear that people are here to see the oldies. XTRMNTR, nearly 17 years old, gets a big showing as they blast through the fuzzy garage rock of ‘Accelerator’, the weird and wonderful ‘Kill the Hippies’ and epilepsy inducing ‘Shoot Speed/Kill Light’. There was a time when Primal Scream had three guitarists on stage but Andrew Innes holds his own up there as the lone guitarist, creating just as much volume.
Of course, not all of the band’s experiments have paid off so naturally some parts of the set are better than others. It’s all worth it for an absolutely brilliant last half hour though. Just when things are threatening to get a little tame, they launch into the industrial rock of ‘Swastika Eyes’, before cracking out the old favourites ‘Country Girl’ and ‘Rocks’. The whole room comes to life as the band are met with the traditional Glaswegian ‘”Here we f*cking go!” chant, which slowly morphs into “Bobby Bobby Bobby f*ckin G!” in a salute to the frontman. Gillespie seems to be age-defying, still possessing every inch of cool with that rare kind of Jagger-like stage presence; but even he is forced to raise a smile.
The encore finishes the night with a bluesy singalong to ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’, before hands are thrown in the air for a euphoric ‘Loaded’ and ‘Movin On Up’. It may be predictable but who cares when it’s this good? The ‘Screamadelica’ logo flashes on the screen and the room turns into a nostalgia fest; hips are swinging and arms are thrown around friends. The old stuff has got to be the best.
Primal Scream will headline Electric Fields, taking place between the 26th-27th August at Drumlanrig Castle. For more information, head to http://www.electricfieldsfestival.com/
This Primal Scream review was written by Suzanne Oswald, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson. Photo from jayjayrobertsonphotography.