Primal Scream Rock Through Pittsburgh
It's hard to believe that Primal Scream have been around for 30 years. From the brittle pop jangle of their inauspicious debut single, "All Fall Down," in 1985, Bobby Gillespie and company have rarely stopped moving, and that movement has always been forward -- or at very least, sideways. Though heroes of legendary status across the pond, in America they remain a band with a small but loyal following. At a recent stop on the band's current U.S. tour at Mr. Small's Funhouse in Pittsburgh, Pa., the faithful turned out and were treated to a powerhouse rock and roll show.
This was Primal Scream without any trimmings. With no fancy light show, added effects or extra players onstage, they came to deliver the goods ... and did just that.
From the opening surge of "2013" (updated as "2015," by the way) the Scream were off and ascending rapidly. Gillespie got into his groove as master of ceremonies patrolling the stage and connecting with the enthusiastic crowd right off the bat. Not that their records are anything to balk at, but the live renditions of songs like "Can't Go Back" (from 2008's Beautiful Fuiture) and "Accelerator" (from 2000's XTRMNTR) blew away the recorded versions without blinking, pumping up the crowd early on in the set.
The 16-song gig covered a lot of ground, reaching back as far as their 1989 sophomore self-titled album and right up through their most recent, More Light LP. Energy ran high throughout, hitting key numbers like "Jailbird," "Kill All Hippies" and "Burning Wheel." Showing off their Stones-y side with a beautiful take on "Damaged," the song was decidedly earthbound. Minutes later, the crowd was transported into the ether via the hypnotic "Higher Than the Sun" during which Gillespie himself seemed to be in a trance.
Gutarist Andrew Innes looked as sharp as he sounded, styling cool in a Dylan '65 inspired wardrobe, while keyboardist Martin Duffy handled a variety of tasks to color the sound. Bassist Simone Butler, as easy on the eyes as she was impressive on the ears, and drummer Darrin Mooney made a formidable rhythm section that truly drove the band on.
After a chaotic "Swastika Eyes," the band and audience were at a boiling point. To end the set were glorious takes of "Country Girl" and a particularly inspired "Movin' On Up" which had a celebratory and unifying vibe to it with smiles all around.
The Scream returned to the stage for a highly spirited "I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have" which segued nicely into the groundbreaking single, "Loaded," the two were linked from the start and made a perfect paring in the live setting. Their now signature classic "Rocks" closed out the evening ... and rock it did.
One thing about this band that I have always loved, though I think it confuses a lot of people, is that they freely leap from one style to another without missing a beat. They have managed to make that approach work like magic, but I still think it leaves some scratching their heads. You know what? It's their loss. Primal Scream put on one of the best rock and roll shows I've seen in quite a while -- get yer rocks off indeed!
Primal Scream -- Setlist May 14, 2015
"Can't Go Back"
"Kill All Hippies"
"Shoot Speed Kill Light"
"Higher Than The Sun"
"Movin' On Up"
"I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have"