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.
// Notes from the Road
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