Kendal Calling, Penrith, Sunday July 28
Earlier this year, Primal Scream released the most righteous sign-of-the-times album since PJ Harvey’s ‘Let England Shake’ in 2011. And even though ‘More Light’ might not be full of obvious festival hits in the way ‘Screamadelica’ is, for the 90 minutes that a silver-shirted Bobby Gillespie and the rest of the Scream are onstage tonight, they’re almost perfect. Gillespie knows the importance of tackling social and political issues, but he also knows how to put on a life-changingly great rock show. The guy’s a professional.
As such, Kendal Calling gets a carefully constructed set that dips frequently into both the darker and brighter moments from ‘More Light’, but never forces the record onto people. Deeper new cuts give way to classic bangers and it all flows as easily as the languid frontman’s dandyish dance moves. Opening track ‘2013’ has barely begun when a bunch of pink and yellow smoke flares go off in the crowd, after which we’re straight into ‘Movin’ On Up’. Another newie, ‘Hit Void’, is proof that even at their most fiery, Primal Scream know how to make people dance. ‘Shoot Speed/Kill Light’ keeps the tempo up, turning the field into an aggressive, scatter-shot rave with new bassist Simone Butler providing the song’s dangerous sleaze. Then comes an introverted moment. The woman in a banana suit bobbing up and down on a man’s shoulders might not fully appreciate the working-class despair at the heart of ‘River Of Pain’, but as its sombre rumbles give way to an apocalyptic sax solo and Gillespie looks lost in thought at the front of the stage, it creates as much of a moment as any of the hits.
And, oh my, the hits. ‘Swastika Eyes’ is, as Gillespie calls it tonight, “anti-fascist disco”. And ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’ finds Bobby looking winded from the weight of his own emotional purge. “I betrayed you/You trusted me and I betrayed you” he forces out before staggering back to the drumkit. And just like that the heavens open, another pink flare lights up the sky and a familiar voice pricks the air: “Just what is it that you want to do?” Every single one of the 10,000 people gathered wants to get loaded. From here on in, the Scream don’t let up. Current single ‘It’s Alright, It’s OK’ sounds as classic as their actual classics, and is the launchpad for the show’s finale. The more confrontational politics of ‘More Light’ may be lost in the enormity of a festival stage, but the unifying message of ‘Come Together’ rings out like gospel. The same goes for the sparkling hoedown of ‘Country Girl’ and a bone-shaking ‘Rocks’, the latter complete with heavy riffs and a solo from guitarist Andrew Innes. The night finishes with Gillespie’s looped yells of “Alright!” hanging in the air long after the band leave the stage. It’s more than alright, Bobby. And it’s definitely more than OK.