Primal Scream are old war horses.
Simply put: the band have been there, snorted that and endured the comedown before racing back for more.
Perennial festival favourites – seriously, is there a field in Blighty they haven’t played this summer? – the band arrive at this year’s iTunes festival in battle-hardened mode.
Resplendent in a vivid suit which bordered in a Teddy boy look, Bobby Gillespie is in confident mood from the off. Leaning in to the microphone, the frontman launches into ‘2013’ with a palpable sense of desperation and urgency.
Breezing into a low down and dirty rendition of ‘Jailbird’ the band then take things into a soulful realm for ‘Vanishing Point’ artefact ‘Burning Wheel’. Crooning into the microphone, Bobby Gillespie has a sense of purpose throughout – scowling at the audience during quiet spells, and revelling in the attention as the temperature rises.
‘Shoot Speed / Kill Light’ adds some serious noise to the proceedings, all disorienting feedback, eye-bleeding lights and thundering guitars. Switching between the twin poles of activism and pacifism, debauchery and sobriety, Primal Scream then veer in on their broken love hymn ‘Damaged’. Perhaps overshadowed on ‘Screamadelica’ by its rave cousins, the country-tinged codeine slurp sounds just heavenly in the Roundhouse.
Touching punk salute ‘Goodbye Johnny’ is dedicated to the memory of Johnny Thunders, whilst ‘It’s Alright, It’s OK’ has rarely sounded so large, so fierce, so menacing. Ending with the good times boogie of ‘Rocks’, Primal Scream disappear for a few moments while their kit is set up for the encore.
Except there’s nothing perfunctory about this. Sliding into ‘Walking With The Beast’ the band then switch gear for a lengthy, gospel tinged workout on ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’. Bobby Gillespie offers a kiss to Andrew Weatherall, before Primal Scream plunge headlong into ‘Loaded’ – famously re-worked from the skeletal of ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’.
Ending with ‘Moving On Up’ the band are visceral, confident… tight. With a decades-spanning discography to draw from, on this form there are few bands who could live with Primal Scream.
Words: Robin Murray
Photo: iTunes Festival 2013
Get the best of Clash on your iPhone - download the app here