Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Primal Scream perform Screamadelica @ Olympia London, 27th November

Review by John West

This was an eagerly anticipated event for me, having seen the Scream on numerous occasions, but this was the BIG one, big in all proportions from vastness of the stage, to the lighting, projections and huge video screens. Prior to our arrival it was bitterly cold as we left the coach in Knightsbridge, I must say thanks to the driver for allowing us to do that. There were Christmas celebrations in Oxford circus and the Capital was ground to a halt, I began to ask myself would we arrive in time for the concert. A quick word and we were given the all clear from National Express control to hit the streets and be on our way. Busy it was too, as the traffic meandered its way through the glistening glittering streets of London town.

Mission number one - to find a welcoming hostelry to quench the thirst and meet up with fellow fans who had travelled far and wide. The venue itself is a cavernous affair holding 10 thousand, and 20 thousand fans would witness over two nights Primal Scream’s biggest gigs to date. This was to be a celebration of an album which hits it’s 20th anniversary next year and the first time it would be performed in its’ entirety. The previous night the concert was beamed across the airwaves on BBC6 with Steve Lamacq holding court wetting our appetites for the event to come. The audience were clearly here as music fans of one of the most important albums of the last twenty years and a classic in its own right, certainly ranked amongst one of the greats, and in certainly their finest hour.

Within moments of entering the massive arena the band hit the stage to perform a first half of hits

including ‘Accelerator’, ‘Burning wheel’ ‘Country girl’ ‘Kowalski’ ‘Jailbird’ .On stage Bobby Gillespie throws his spider like shapes clad in his obligatory black suit, madly clapping, as the ever beaming Mani throbs his bass lines to his right. They work the faithful keeping them warm with their assault, then they lunge into the anthemic ‘Rocks’ from the ‘Give out...’ album but call a brief halt as Mani and guitarist Andrew Innes mess up, Gillespie asks the band to stop wryly quipping as the crowd sing along stating they know the words better than they do. They kick in again this time getting it right exchanging humorous glances towards each other across the stage.

An interval follows as Andy Weatherall hits the mixing desk to throw in some sounds to reflect the mood of the evening as the band take a break in preparation for the main event. Weatherall was responsible for some of the production of the album adding ambience and texture to the initial recording, therefore its only right that he should share in the glory tonight.

As the lights dim the familiar backdrop of the Screamadelica album cover is there in all its glory as the familiar Stonesy riffing of ‘Moving on up’ is belted out. The crowd are ecstatic as this is what they came for; this is a celebration of a great musical moment. Whereas some bands have rested on their laurels Primal Scream has continued to push the musical boundaries embracing all genres and soaking it up like a musical sponge. This is not merely a night of nostalgia its highlighting what is a masterful recording, and to hear it live in its entirety it works on all levels and beyond taking the audience higher than the sun for the experience.

Primal Scream has been together for well over twenty odd years with the ever controversial Gillespie at the forefront. They’ve taken on board all their eclectic musical tastes from the garage sounds of MC5, the Stooges, via the swagger of the younger Stones through to punk then embracing the ‘Krautrock’ of Neu and here with this airing the sounds of dub, coupled with acid house vibes and beats. It is the moment where the indie rock audience of all ages fused with the ravers of the chemical generation. Everybody wanted to dance and groove along whatever their personal musical bent, a unison of sound and vision. It’s a testament to the Screamadelica album that it cuts across all the musical snobbery that goes on, the rock kids were allowed to dance after all, they had moved to the dance floor.

Gillespie and co are first and foremost music fans themselves, they simply acknowledge what they hear and bring to the mix a sound that is very much their own. They are a true rock band, a gang, a collective who have led a much documented hedonistic lifestyle, but they have the ability to deliver here tonight they do not let us down. It is not a simple run through, the band have rehearsed this to maximum effect replicating the original and taking it even further, much to our delight.

The original running order has been mashed up and despite it being a massive venue for them, the sound fills every corner of the arena. With added vocals from the extremely impressive Mary Pierce and the addition of a wonderful gospel choir for added effect they can do no wrong. The climatic airing of ‘Loaded’ and ‘Come Together’ emphasises the point, the band have taken the time and space to deliver on all levels, with the psychedelic backdrops, hi tech lighting, and great musicianship the audience are left overwhelmed by their sheer power and majesty. Screamadelica won the inaugural Mercury music prize, it’s debt is somewhat owed to the masterful production and mixing qualities of both Jimmy Miller and Andy Weatherall, the music however is pure Primal Scream.

If you haven’t got this in your record collection you need to. This band don’t hide behind stylists they are pure rock n roll they are the Xtrmntrs of the Xfactor wannabes. Thank goodness we have bands like them who are original and groundbreaking , they continue to reinvent the rock ‘n’ roll rule book with their innovation and influence on a musical landscape which sadly currently is more concerned about the look and celebrity status – to coin a familiar phrase “just what is it that you want do?”

Primal Scream will be taking to the road in Spring at smaller venues across the country, get inside the house while you can. The album itself will be re-released and re-mastered for a March release with extras.



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