Photos by Sarah Rix
Scotland’s Primal Scream are responsible for two of my favourite albums; 1991’s psychedelic dance opus Screamadelica and the paranoid agit-pop of 2000’s XTRMNTR. But given gradually diminishing returns in North America, the band rarely makes the trek over the pond. Last night was the band’s fifth visit to town since the release of Screamadelica.
Finally making good on an aborted run in 2014 and two years after the release of their tenth album, More Light, Bobby Gillespie brought the smallest stage incarnation of the band to the Danforth Music Hall without sacrificing any of their wallop.
Kicking off with More Light’s “2013”, the five piece worked through some sound issues, notable guitarist Andrew Innes being too buried in the mix. The band wouldn’t touch the album again for the night as they offered the crowd just under two hours of “the hits” focusing on Screamadelica and XTRMNTR.
Initially Bobby was his usual detached self, letting the rest of the band and music do the proverbial talking, but the atmosphere in the venue changed probably around the time they got into “Kill All Hippies” did the vibe morph from a passive experience into a truly transcendent one.
The only noticeable difference this time around and the only gripe I would have would be the absence of additional guitarists, most notably on “Shoot Speed/Kill Light” and dancefloor annihilator “Swastika Eyes”. But Innes still managed to fill the Music Hall with guitar and new bassist Simone Butler making it all seem so seamless that you forgot those shoes were filled by the Stone Roses’ Mani the last time they were in town six years ago.
By the back half of the set, Bobby was clearly in his element and basking in an uncharacteristically energetic crowd, bouncing from one side of the stage to the other ending their set with a rousing romp through “Moving On Up”.
The encore built on the momentum and included a bonus cover of John Lennon’s “Cold Turkey” which they played at their 1992 RPM gig in support of Screamadelica before sending the thrilled crowd home with the closest they ever came to a hit on this side of the pond, 1994’s “Rocks”.
While it’s unlikely the band will be back anytime soon, it was evenings like this that made me lament not living in Europe so as to experience the Scream on a regular basis.
Can’t Go Back
Kill All Hippies
Shoot Speed/Kill Light
Higher Than the Sun
Moving On Up
I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have