Roy Jurgens on
Haggard from a flight in from Toronto, Primal Scream head honcho and lone original member Bobby Gillespie had a bit of a hound dog droop across his face as he took the stage at the Regent on Saturday night. That didn’t last long however, as an enthusiastic multi-cultural and multi-generational crowd lit his eyes aflame and brought a grin to his mug as the opening notes of “Movin’ On Up” pulsed through the speakers. Adorned in a fashionably unfashionable coral flavored suit, the 54-year-old native of Glasgow shook the weary off his bones and began coaxing the crowd into what would be a pretty damned good rock show. He’s aged gracefully, rail thin and groovy, with the summer of love still coursing through his veins.
Playing four tracks off “Chaosmosis” which they released earlier this year, the band bounced across the high points off their career. The opus “Screamadelica” was well-represented with gospel-tinged classics such as “Loaded” and “Come Together.” Accelerator” and “Swastica Eyes” off 2000’s “XTRMNTR” had a poisonous bite to them delivered by guitarist Barry Cadogan’s slashing riffs. Simone Butler vamped deliciously on bass, looking like a grown-up version of Diane Coulston (Keyy MacDonald’s character on “Trainspotting”). Given the costs of touring, Primal Scream tours with a much smaller entourage abroad, as European shows offer a fuller band and a bevvy of background vocalists. This fact made their show a little too dependent upon technology, but this is a minor complaint given the overall energy and soul that was delivered.
Thirty-plus years and a head-spinning 23 members past and present have seen Primal Scream venture through starving post-punk, druggy acid house, “Exile”-era Stones, futuristic cinemascapes and hippy-esque gospel sing-alongs. While the Glaswegians have always been an act that vacillates wildly between genres, somehow they always sounding like themselves because of one man, Gillespie.
Having cut his teeth as the drummer for the Jesus and Mary Chain, endless strife between the battling Reid brothers left Gillespie with a harsh choice. Should he remain in a successful band with the Reids or venture out on his own. Fortunately he chose the latter. But it took several years of failure before a chance meeting with DJ Andrew Weatherall not only supplied Primal Scream with their first hit “Loaded,” but removed their self-imposed shackles and freed them to experiment on something other than a copious intake of narcotics. Oh yes, Primal Scream’s drug intake was stuff of legend, as was their habit of being the type of band that would start a fight despite the fact that it usually ended badly for them. It is a minor miracle that Gillespie is alive and kicking today, as the bottles of mineral water onstage suggest the band is no longer “Higher Than the Sun” — the 1991 rager the played mid-set Saturday — but can still deliver the burn.