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Primal Scream

(28 May 2000: Hammerstein Ballroom — New York)

Six years later, Primal Scream are back. Lead by vocalist Bobby Gillespie—looking like a hybrid of Rotten, Vicious and Iggy—this year’s model is a nine-man post-millennial, post-everything supergroup comprising the usual Scream suspects and more recent conscripts, ex-Stone Roses bassist Mani and guitar noise guru Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine.


With a sonic sensibility that constantly reinvents itself, Primal Scream have been one of the more engaging UK bands of the last decade. Pre-dating and out-living Britpop, they’ve tried everything on their musical trip: the throb of a post-house, blissed out generation, funk, Krautrock, Southern rock, ‘60s Detroit garage, dub, hard-edged techno and a punk attitude are all embedded in Primal Scream’s aural archaeology.


Kicking off with the driving anti-militarist rant “Swastika Eyes,” the Scream clearly intended to take no prisoners. In a nearly two-hour onslaught, they provided only a couple of comedown moments, assaulting the crowd with incessant strobes and a degree of searing guitar and bass-heavy cacophony that threatened to dislodge loose dental work and move bowels.


The set drew largely on the new album, XTRMNTR, with renderings of the Sly-esque “Kill All Hippies,” the blistering “Accelerator” and the relentless Can-meets-23 Skidoo instrumental, “Blood Money.” Equally fine moments came with older fare: “Movin’ on Up” and “Higher than the Sun” from Screamadelica, “Burning Wheel” and “Kowalski” from Vanishing Point and the stompin’ “Rocks” from Give Out But Don’t Give Up.


The Scream eventually exited, leaving a wake of menacing feedback. But just when we thought it was safe to dust ourselves off and leave, they came back—putting the boot in with a manic version of “Kick Out the Jams.”


“Are you ready for us yet America?” asked Mani last night. If America isn’t ready after this tour, it never will be.

Tagged as: primal scream
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