Primal Scream: Astoria, London: Thursday April 6
Prepare to get your rocks off, get your rocks off, honey – Bobby Gillespie’s in the mood to party and you’re all invited
“HEY ROCK’N’ROLL DOCTOR! ROCK’N’ROLL NURSE! GIVE ME A SHOT! GIMME SOME PILLS!” Bobby Gillespie, punk puritan, disciple of debauchery and 43-year-old father-of-two twists his still-skinny frame into a shape straight out of The Iggy Pop Guide To Sexually Provocative Stage Manoeuvres, accentuating this most ridiculous of lines from ‘Suicide Sally And Johnny Guitar’, the most ridiculous cut from his band’s forthcoming album of ridiculous rock’n’roll anthems to hedonism. In his head he’s an outlaw beamed in from planet Sleazerock to scare children and shock parents, like Alice Cooper fronting New York Dolls with added amphetamines. In reality he’s… well, he’s kind of silly, but certainly committed to his maniacal cause, and definitely ready to get his rocks off. So Israel, the Pentagon and hippy vibes-lovin’ Glastonbury-goers can breathe a sigh of relief: from the minute they hit the stage tonight, it’s clear that Primal Scream have ditched the politicised noise terrorist routine and have decided instead to grow old disgracefully as a badass bar-room band, all good-time riffs, “baby, baby”s and a live-fast attitude more befitting of people a third of their age. Opener and new single ‘Country Girl’ is a cowboy-hatted blast, ‘Dolls’ a “la la”-stuffed, well-informed glam pastiche that shakes its hips in all the right places and the older ‘Jailbird’ (from ’94’s ‘Give Out But Don’t Give Up’) a cliché-a-second boogie-rock masterpiece (“I gotta push’n’pull’n’howl like a wolf/Drive my Cadillac”) that, like its creators tonight, survives through sheer effrontery.
Mani grins as Bobby throws an arm around his neck, guitars are raised above heads and walks become struts. The sniggers of the cynics may be louder than ever, but tonight Primal Scream look and sound like they’re having the time of their lives. Tellingly, when they do dip into the more sonically challenging areas of their back catalogue, the Scream feel like a completely different band. The strobes are set to mindfuck, with ‘Kowalski’’s distorted dub and the fearsome feedback disco of ‘Swastika Eyes’ becoming sense-assaulting journeys into the void. Awesome though these moments are, in truth they sorely miss the noise symphonies of the now-departed Kevin Shields and feel like interludes to what tonight is clearly all about: no-nonsense dumb rock’n’roll fun. Proof of this comes firstly in their cover of ’60s psychedelic loonies The 13th Floor Elevators’ ‘Slip Inside This House’, a song that they reinvented way back on 1991’s classic ‘Screamadelica’ album as an acid house track, but on which tonight they stick closely to the garage rock original, and secondly in the fact that the only other song that survives from that era is the gospel-tinged euphoria of ‘Movin’ On Up’ which, although one of their finest ever moments, is not one of their most forward-thinking.
Really, that the encore consists of second versions of ‘Country Girl’ and that pinnacle-of-stoopidness ‘Rocks’ says it all. This is a band who (maybe only for now – who knows?) are tired of fighting, done with experimenting and are putting their faith in the party-startin’ music closest to their hearts. It may only be rock’n’roll, but hey honey/sugar/darlin’/sister: Primal Scream sure as hell do like it.