Live Reviews - Reviews

Primal Scream – Limelight 1, Belfast


Tonight, Belfast’s Limelight 1 plays host to the first of two intimate Primal Scream shows in our fair city, and by 8.15pm the fact that it’s a Wednesday evening hasn’t seemed to deter too many fans. Entering the venue, a decent sized crowd are pocketed along the bar and the sides of the room as the equipment is tinkered with for tonight’s supporting act, a DJ set from David Holmes; an appropriate opening act for the band, having both the coveted title of Bel-Funks first son and producer of Primal Screams latest ear bender More Light.

As he begins to play what could arguably be called a blend of garage-psyc-beat-rock, Holmes is able to muster two or three of the more outgoing folk toward the dance-floor, but the selection isn’t really enough to get the steadily increasing crowd to migrate towards the stage.  An air of understated enthusiasm graces the room, as onlookers clearly appreciate the presence of Holmes despite the fact there isn’t much in the way of unanimous grooving.  He wraps up his set by 9.20pm and although it was a solid appearance, the influx of patrons around the half 9 mark would suggest that the majority here are solely interested in Primal Scream. It is their night after all.

As the stage techs take the guitars to tune up and strum those appetite-whetting strokes, the excitement is gaining swift momentum. More and more people seem to appear from nowhere and soon the venue looks like it should – dense and dark with bodies clustered around the stage.  It’s a mere twenty minutes from Holmes’s last tune before the band take to the stage to raucous hollers and claps, with Bobby Gillespie strutting and shaking his tambourine, invoking the crowd to respond. Opening their set with ‘2013’, the guitars drone with saturated delays as the drums set the pace with crashing ferocity.  Gillespie – cooler than cool – chants “21st century slaves” and we realise why we’re here on a school night. Any expectations of a Screamadelica-style set are justifiably vanquished with pure rock and roll guitars, slick organ work and brutal drum smashing – not to mention the powerhouse bass courtesy of Simone Butler, a relatively fresh addition to the band.

Gillespie and co. work through some old favourites with ease and the snarling rock sensibility of the set soon begins to explain the heavy mod presence at this gig. One thing is for certain, there is incredible energy emanating from the stage and the crowd in turn are soaking it up and giving it back with vigour. ‘Country Girl’ quickly becomes an exercise in artist-to-crowd collaboration with Gillespie graciously offering the microphone to the audience for the choral moments. The same applies to ‘Rocks’ and it’s safe to say that this gig is turning into one of the cities’ best in quite some time. Discussions can be heard during the breaks between songs as to whether tomorrow night’s performance will match up to tonight’s and we can only assume that yes, it most definitely will – If this is an indicator of the band’s live prowess, then worry ye shall not.

After thrashing us for around an hour, the band leave the stage but it’s clear there is going to be an encore (the setlist sheet has a visible encore section) and chants for “one more tune” and the like quickly become needless; Primal Scream emerge once more to dancing green light, saturated in thick smoke. This is the set many may have been expecting as ‘Loaded’, ‘Higher than the Sun’ and ‘Movin’ On Up’’ get the all-out jam session treatment. Guitars, synths, drum pads, bass and saxophone are used to battering effect as the band move through each remaining song with reckless consideration for time-constraints. Strobe lights flicker as the crescendo of sonic abandonment forces movement out of the few people remaining stationary, and, as the final drones of sound are beaten out of the speakers, there is nothing left to do but applaud and scream our gratitude for a night that left us raw, shaken and thoroughly satisfied. Kudos Primal Scream, it was a pleasure. Aaron Drain