Live Last Night: Primal Scream

primal scream

Primal Scream has been around for so long that a band that named itself after one of its songs (Velocity Girl) has already been broken up for a decade and done the reunion thing. The sound-shifting Scottish rockers don't at all resemble their first incarnation as a gentle indie-pop band, but that's for the best. At the 9:30 club on Friday night the seasoned sextet touched on pretty much every other era of its career, with a focus on the heavy, electro/psych-rock fusion of 2000's "XTRMNTR." When everything clicked -- and that was easily more often than not -- the group created a ferocious roar that proved, at least when it comes to live performance, Primal Scream isn't that far removed from its days a decade ago when it could command a headlining slot at an 80,000 person festival in the U.K.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump and check out Gustafson's photos.)

There were about 79,700 fewer people at the 9:30 club Friday and perhaps that was why the band was in no mood for pleasantries -- singer Bobby Gillespie muttered just a few words to the crowd and there was no encore after the 80-minute set. The singular focus on the songs was refreshing, though, and helped maintain a momentum that was rarely broken. Opener "Kill All Hippies" found an electro-groove sweet spot, "Country Girl" offered some appealing bluesy riff rock, and "Jailbird" was a hazy pop delight. But if the first two-thirds was a pleasant display of musical dexterity, the final portion was a flat-out assault.

"Shoot Speed/Light Kill" and "Swastika Eyes" were thumping and pounding in all the right ways, dance music with serious bite. If only raves had music this good we wouldn't have to be embarrassed about having gone to them back when we were younger. "Movin' On Up" and "Rocks" got back to guitar-based rock, with the latter an especially sharp garage stomper, but nothing compared to the Stooges-inspired chaos of closer "Accelerator." By the time the final squealing guitar notes rang out, it was evident that while Primal Scream's star may have diminished, its sound certainly hasn't.


By David Malitz |  March 30, 2009; 7:50 AM ET Live Last Night
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