Primal Scream LIVE @ Camden Roundhouse 20.09.13

I dunno if it was the half bottle of whiskey smuggled in in my pants and demolished half way into the set that made me as always, in awe of the Scream. They are simply, for me, the most perfect rock ‘n’ roll band.

Even without the effervescent Mani, they just keep on blowing you away.

Mani’s replacement Simone Butler has grown into the role and no longer hangs back as if unsure as to her standing among the giants of the rock game surrounding her. She, along with Barrie Cadogan and Andrew Innes, repeatedly marched to the front of the stage to sock it to the audience. She beat Peter Hook to the vacant role and I’m starting to see the value she brings. She’s come a long way since her morning chats with Barrie as they used to open up the respective guitar stores they worked in in Denmark St a decade or so ago.

Cadogan was poetry in motion as he always is. A jolting, strutting, menacing slither of dangerous energy. He’s my favourite guitarist to watch, easily. In addition to being an absolute gentlemen (when headlining with Little Barrie he helped a band I was managing to carry all of their equipment in, and then came into the dressing room afterwards to apologise for missing some of the set).

There’s nothing really left to say about the band that hasn’t been said already, except for here’s the set list (below) and they are untouchable.

1. 2013

2. Jailbird

3. Burning Wheel

4. Shoot Speed / Kill Light

5. Relativity

6. Damaged

7. River of Pain

8. Goodbye Johnny

9. It’s Alright, It’s Ok,

10. Swastika Eyes

11. Country Girl

12. Rocks

Encore

13. Wlking With the Beast

14. I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have

15. Loaded

16. Movin’ On Up.

Gillespie being the festering Glaswegian anti-establishment punk that he is, I wondered how he’d take on such a corporate event. Filled to the rafters with largely chin stroking industry types and middle and upperclass musos. If rumour has it correctly that they are calling it a day soon and gigging as much as possible, these kind of pay days I assume are being gobbled up. One thing the i tunes festival does do is allow you to directly compare one band against another in terms of their prowess and ability to move the hardest of crowds. Where Kings of Leon failed last week, Primal Scream cruised.

They know it’s gonna happen, there’s a constant rye smile on Innes’ face and in the words of Ian Brown… “It takes time for people to fall in love with you, but it’s inevitable”. Like the hottest girl in a bar with her eye on her prey. The Scream know you’re going home with them. Just a matter of time. Sure enough, they turned up the heat as they sailed through the set and Gillespie remains a front man who’s out on his own. A whirling dirvish. Continuous engagement and movement, sometimes funny, sometimes surprising, often managing to ooze sex and danger at the same time. Crouching to stare you in the eye for an unerring length of time. Regular cries of “c’mon!” amongst his effortless serenading. HUGE shout out to an immense rose pink suit with black silk shirt. Debonaire. Who else could pull that off? Prince and Little Richard probably. I was fixated with him and at one point my mind drifted back to a time when I had a pre-famous Henry Holland in a head lock and made him stare at Gillespie whilst shouting “that’s f**kin style mate!!”. Ooh dear.

The tracks from the new album sounded right up there with the best and stood shoulder to shoulder with the classics. Walking With The Beast was haunting and befitting of the venue’s echoed interior beams. Aside from the regular highlight of Swastika Eyes (I wonder if anyone’s ever informed Madeline Albright of her influence on that one?), Shoot Speed / Kill Light was epic. Pure G force. Pummelling you with sonic shots and daring you to look it in the face. Which other bands today could harbour that in their set along with the country-fied Country Girl, the beautiful Damaged and the dance and ecstacy fuelled Loaded? Spanning not just decades of phenomenal output but an array of genres too, by one of the greatest song writers we’ve witnessed.

Girls around me lost the plot by the end and all decorum with it. Hair matted to sweat drenched faces. Gillespie managing a dirty grin as he knew once again that he was the conqueror. Powers undimmed.

I shared a pint once at the Spice of Life in Soho with an ex manager of the Scream Glass Eye Bob, the author Terry Rawlings and Steve Diggle of the Buzzcocks. I posed the question; greatest British band of all time? They answered at once and unflinchingly: PRIMAL SCREAM.

David Ham
@gigslutz_radio

David Ham
David is a co-founder of the good ship Gigslutz, slightly obsessed with Hunter S Thompon and Public Enemy. Could be worse. He also hosts the monthly Gigslutz radio show on Hoxton Radio.