When I get asked to review the Bingley festival for Lyric Lounge Review, it was hard not to suppress a smile and think that all of my Christmases had come at once. The reason being that Saturday night headliners Primal Scream are a band that I have followed relentlessly ( and some may say persistently) for over 20 years. They storm onto the stage to the aural ectasticness of ‘2013’ from their latest album ‘More Light’ . The melodic saxophone intro signals the arrival of Primal Scream to the festival stage and therefore the start of the party. “Are you ready to Rock? ” asks lead singer Bobby Gillespie and the deafening roar from the crowd in reply indicates that yes indeed they are….
The Scream have drawn an absolutely massive crowd for tonights performance and each and every person seems ready, willing and able in the ready to rock department. The crowds enthusiasm is rewarded with old classic ‘Movin’ on up’ – and so early on in the set too. It’s the sign of a strong back catalogue and supreme confidence of their new material that enables them put this in so early without so much as a blink of an eye. The crowd sing along like their lives depend on it, and to keep the momentum going the band blast straight into the raucous romp ‘Jailbird’ with Bobby throwing himself around the stage pointing at the crowd. He’s on fire with his performance tonight and he encourages the crowd to join in his fervour. New bassist Simone Butler has had pretty big boots to fill with the gap left by former screamer Mani, but she fills them with added style and sass. She is effortlessly cool, no …actually make that über cool, she makes you want to BE her, to do her job and to look that damn cool. (Have I mentioned she’s cool?).
The onstage chemistry between her, Bobby and Little Barrie has added a further dimension to the band live performances. More tracks from ‘More Light’ are produced for the crowd ‘Hit Void’ is one of my absolute favourites, the punchy intro and scuzzy guitar gives the track a retro feel the track could have been lifted straight out of the sixties but with a total contemporary feel like an intoxicating mix of MC5, the Velvet Underground and the Jesus and Mary Chain. The guitar work on this track from both Innes and Little Barrie is phenomenal surely this in itself would ensure it is another Primals classic in the making.
It takes a pretty special band to hold your interest for over two decades and one of the reasons that the Primals have remained my favourites for so many years is because of their ability to keep reinventing themselves, so that with every new album there is a completely different sound. They are not afraid to experiment and their bravery in experimentation pays off every single time without fail. From the Indie dance euphoria of ‘Screamdelica’ via the Rock trip that is ‘Give out but don’t give up’ to the brilliance of ‘XTRMNTR’s ultra succesful industrialesque and angry Electronica style sound. its a cool and varied trip and mot oncedo they falter and tonight the band showcase their diversity with aplomb.
Barrie takes aim at the crowd during ‘Shoot Speed / Kill Light’ with his guitar, and as the song finishes Bobby dedicates the song to the legend that is Wilko Johnson who played his ‘last scheduled gig’ at Bingley just a few hours earlier. Pace is slowed with the psychedelic fusion that is ‘River of Pain’ followed by another slower song from ‘More Light’ – ‘Goodbye Johnny’ and the slower pace is much needed as the rest of the tracks have been an adrenalin ride through their back catalogue. Then the pace is ramped right back up as the start of ‘Swastika Eyes’ starts , the intro signalling like an alarm that the rollercoaster ride is once again about to start. When they follow it with the exquisite ‘I’m losing more than I ever had’ I think I’m going to explode as my head cannot comprehend that my two favourite songs have just been played in quick succession my mood goes from fantastic to ridiculously ecstatic. And they’re not finished yet…. a trip back to ‘Screamadelica’ with ‘Loaded’ and ‘Come Together’ whipping the crowd to one mass of ravey frenzy, their combined dancing giving the illusion of pulsating to the beat.
The Primal party is completed with the hit assault that is ‘Country Girl’ – their highest charting single – and the ever popular ‘Rocks’ and it seems that every one of the fifteen thousand strong crowd singing along. Hell, even the foot stalls are grooving to the beat as they serve customers. After a performance like this (and every other performance I’ve ever seen them do if truth is told) its not hard to see why Primal Scream are regularly touted as one of the best live acts around. Catch them live at the moment and you will be catching them at their peak. They have retained their angry political stance while appearing as a more contented, tight knit and eclectic band all at the same time. Nothing short of phenomenal and proof if proof were needed that we all need ‘More Light’ in our lives.