Gig review: Primal Scream @ Manchester Academy

By Michael Halpin

Primal scream, on their day, can personify the unifying power of music.

Repeatedly last night, not only did they instigate a feeling of complete oneness within the Academy, they also managed to look like a band who love what they do. Something that has not necessarily always been the case for Primal Scream.  

Opening with 2013, a song which hits the core of everything that is wrong with Great Britain at the moment, it was instantly understood by all who witnessed it that Bobby Gillespie’s anger at the state of the nation is not some sort of career driven false resentment designed to show that he is still a punk rocker at heart. 

Do not even think about questioning his motives.  When Bobby Gillespie has something to say, you had better believe that he means every single word of it.

Hit Void followed with a blaring saxophone that is a welcome addition to Primal Scream’s live shows and Jailbird, the first real crowd pleaser of the night heard the audience take the chorus and Bobby Gillespie channel his inner-Jagger striding from stage-left to stage-right, whipping up the audience with everything he had. It may have been Sunday night but Bobby Gillespie was having it large!

Shoot Speed, Kill Light and Accelerator from 2000’s EXTRMNTR were electronic punk rock personified, leaving both the band and the audience in need of some breathing space.  The problem being that the breathing space lasted a little too long.  Culturecide, Elimination Blues, Walking With The Beast, Goodbye Johnny and Autobahn 66 all of which cannot be denied as strong numbers, disappointingly kept the gig at the same tempo for too long. 

There was a sense of the audience becoming restless until the opening bars of It’s Alright, It’s OK put an instant stop to all of that.  One of the years best singles, It’s Alright… brought all round good vibes to the Academy with a message that, unlike 2013, suggests that there may yet be some hope for the future.

A psychotic Swastika Eyes was dedicated to Tony Wilson and Factory Records while Country Girl, as it always should, raised the roof.  Even Bobby Gillespie enjoyed it, grinning from ear-to-ear while Country Girl flowed majestically into Rocks.

Right now Great Britainneeds a great band.  Not just a great rock ‘n’ roll band, punk band or indie/dance band but a band that celebrates music as a whole and has something valid to say while they are doing it. 

Despite being 26 years into their recording career, on their day, Primal Scream are still that band. 

As I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have preceded its better-known offspring in the shape of Loaded, you could touch the anticipation in the audience.  Loaded came complete with spontaneous Sympathy for The Devil ‘Woo Woo’s!’ from all in attendance just as Bobby Gillespie seemed to throw some Mick Jagger-style shapes once more.

Come Together, complete with Jesse Jackson’s 1972 WattStax speech is a song that in many ways encapsulates everything wonderful about Primal Scream, “Today, you will hear, gospel and rhythm and blues…and jazz…we know all of those are just labels and music is music…” and this is the point with Primal Scream.  It is acutely evident that they are not just musicians.  They are genuine music fans who embrace anything and everything that they love about their own record collections. 

Their fearless notion that if you like a certain style of music, do not be restricted by guitar, bass and drums, seems to know no bounds.

That all encompassing spirit reached fever pitch during Come Together and the audience carried on singing the chorus long after the band has finished playing the song.  A pretty special moment. 

Moving On Up finished the evening off in style and there was hugs all round between band members for what was Primal Scream’s last gig of 2013. 

New bassist Simone Butler looked to be both bursting with pride and emotional towards the end of the set and I challenge any Primal Scream fan to point out an occasion on which Bobby Gillespie has looked as happy at the end of a gig as he did last night.

Picture courtesy of Francois / Mister Pink, with thanks.

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Articles