In 1989 Andrew Weatherall wrote an NME live review of Primal Scream, which led to ‘Screamadelica’. Read it here

Writing under the name Audrey Witherspoon, the iconic DJ and producer was an occasional contributor to NME in the 1980s

A man of many talents, Andrew Weatherall was also a sometime NME journalist. In October 1989 he reviewed a Primal Scream gig at Exeter Arts Centre under the name Audrey Witherspoon. It was this review and meeting with the band that eventually lead to him producing the then indie shufflers’ seminal single ‘Loaded’ (a remix of their earlier track ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’) and 1991’s game-changing, acid-house infused ‘Screamadelica’ album.

“I’ve not read the review since, and I’m not sure I want to,” Weatherall said in author Luke Bainbridge’s 2013 book The True Story of Acid House: Britain’s Last Youth Culture Revolution. “Hopefully it still had some naive charm”. That is certainly does. The review has been trapped in the NME archive for over 30 years, but here it is – as surreal and eclectic as the great man himself. RIP.

Sex, Lies and Gaffer Tape

Primal Scream, Exeter Arts Centre

“Be young, be foolish… Be happy”.

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Part One: “… and I’ll meet you at the station.”

On the road with The Primals. Blinding. First a checklist. Leather Jeckyls back from Sketchleys – check two bottles of Jack Daniels – check. Away we go.

First stop, Paddington newsagents with its extremely well stocked shelf. Gentlemens’ leisure magazines? Do me a favour, there’s bound to be loads of girlies wanting to snog the gonads off of anybody even remotely connected with the band, still a bit of train journey reading wouldn’t go amiss.

A Guns N’Roses interview? Just the ticket. Even better. Pamela Des Barres confessions of a groupie. Nah, a bit tacky. This’ll do, Fred Dineage’s in depth look at the Kray twins (What next? Jack Hargreaves and the rest of the team look behind the scenes of the Brinks Mat security blag, and asks “How?”). Raunchy reading for a raunchy evening.

On reflection, a suburban local paper and a bumper edition of The People’s Friend would have been more in order. The banter aboard the 14.15 Paddington to Exeter wasn’t particularly raunchy either, the words ‘Kick’, ‘roadie’, ‘arse’, ‘chick’, and ‘axe’ were never used.

Instead, the conversations ranged from old soul boy stories to Jack Barron’s psychedelic anorak (not a new indie band but a very dodgy article of clothing).

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Several limp sarnies, piss weak tea and Stellas later, it’s ‘hello Exeter St Davids, get me a sherbert to the hotel’. Maybe we could start the rock’n’roll antics there. Not a hope.

The Trenance Hotel, with its sticker bearing the words ‘As recommended by the Ramblers Association’, tends to conjure up images of Peter Storm waterproofs and stout walking shoes, not ideas about lobbing televisions from windows. Anyway, they were chained to the wall (a light-fingered lot these ramblers), and a Goblin Teasmade from the fourth floor doesn’t quite have the same impact (in every sense of the word).

Part Two: – “We’re gonna hit the town, burn it f––ing down – to a cinder”.

So go the lyrics to one of The Clash’s finest tunes, lyrics coursing through my mind as we stormed out into the Exeter afternoon in search of action.

Thoughts of painting the town red, however, were shattered by the photographic portion of the posse when he uttered the words, “I must get some baby stuff”. That’s more like it, baby oil for a saucy love romp on a plastic sheet. But no, he was thinking more along the lines of a Tommy Tippee mug and matching romper suit for his kid.

It was still relatively early, anything could happen, couldn’t it? A few drinks might liven things up a little. To the Arts Centre with all speed. What’s it to be chaps, 48 pints of lager, 10 pints of Brandy and Lucozade, 6 bottles of scotch and plastic bucket? “Two halves of lager, a Diet Pepsi, and an orange juice, please”. By now thoughts of on-the-road debauchery were fading fast.

They flew totally out of control when Bobby Gillespie arrived, in his hands not a young floozy and a carrier bag full of associated narcotics, but a glass of milk and a carefully prepared cheese salad roll.

We all exchanged pleasantries and sat next to what appeared to be the Arts Centre booking committee, earnest sorts with crew cuts, round glasses and courduroy kecks, and that was just the women. Several members of the Primals gang joined the table and at last on the road-type tales began to be told. Stories I couldn’t begin to tell on these pages, mainly because I wasn’t listening. The conversation on the committee table was far more interesting.

An extremely young crowd was beginning to gather, rumours abounding that tickets for this sell out gig were changing hands for 15 quid. However, after witnessing several punters count out the price of half a Ruddies in very small change I couldn’t really picture any of them shelling out that kind of wedge.

Part Three: ‘Young Hearts Run Free’

Oh my word they were young. Young and polite, standing and watching, until Mr Gillespie reported “Well, dance then” to a heckler that shouted “Faster and Louder”.

This was the cue for some furious but very good-natured leaping about. Very young girls watched the very young boys pushing each other over and pretending to be on drugs. I watched the whole palaver and wished I was at least eight years younger.

In the ‘dressing room’ the chaps held court. The young girlies looked like they should all have names like Becky or Bunty, the young boysies looked at the band as if they were hip elder brothers.

Oh yeah. It almost slipped my mind. The songs. One sounded like T Rex, one sounded like Gen X, one sounded like Big Star, one sounded like the Sex Pistols and one was the Sex Pistols. A great deal of energy channelled through a crap PA. Basically, Primal Scream pay homage to their heroes (what good pop bands don’t?) and inject a little of their own spunk (ooer, and all that)…

This was not the best of gigs from a musical point of view, but that’s not the point. The point is that 200 very young people had a bleeding good night out, were able to talk to their heroes – and believe me these kids are heroes – ponce a drum stick of tow, buy a T-shirt from the world’s worst T-shirt salesman and wander back to their bedsits extremely happy.

Far be it from me to be cynical about this kind of behaviour because, at the risk of sounding like a patronising git, I do like to see young people enjoying themselves.

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