30 years ago, what had been seen as a wannabe Byrds-esque jangly guitar indie group, worked with cutting edge dance music producers, and released Screamadelica. Somehow that band, Primal Scream, have survived the intervening years, despite loss of band members, and are now celebrating the anniversary of that ground breaking album.
Friday night saw the tour roll in to Cardiff Castle, a great outdoor venue in the centre of the Welsh capital. A crowd full of bucket hats and Adidas trainers, queued around the castle walls to the strains of Faithless being pumped out by Peter Hook of New Order / Joy Division, ahead of the Happy Mondays taking the stage. Shaun Ryder and Bez may be showing their age now, but the tunes still pack a punch, scally dance rock, with the ability to get a party started. Wrote For Luck in particular was immense, a towering groovy classic.
Bobby Gillespie, resplendent in an outfit depicting the famous album cover, and band strolled on stage a little before 8.45, a white clad gospel group joining for the opening bars of Moving On Up, sung a cappella, before the band kicked in, and from that point on, there was barely a let up. It was nice to see little tributes to Denise Johnson and Andrew Weatherall, two people who had as much to do with the genesis of the album as the full band members.
As on the record, the first few tunes (Slip Inside This House, Dont Fight It, Feel It, Come Together) are extremely powerful, but the band then leave out Loaded, playing the title track (though not included on the album) in its place. This was a welcome surprise, and still got a great reception.
I’ve always felt that Screamadelica was front loaded, and that the second half of the record drifted a little, but live this was not evident. The tunes felt beefier somehow, the guitar to the fore, and the gospel choir brought depth to Bobbys sometimes weak vocals. Damaged in particular had a cutting guitar solo, and the final acid house tracks held up well in the open air venue.
The encore started with the aforementioned Loaded, still a dance indie classic, before a short greatest hits of Jailbird, Swastica Eyes, Country Girl and finally Rocks. These had the crowd fully dancing, and showed a different side to the band, their Stones tendencies fully evident.
It was the second time I have seen Primal Scream, the first had been in the early 2000s when they had Kevin Shields and Mani in the band, and were a very powerful MC5 / Stooges heavy rock outfit, but Cardiff Castle had these elements plus a lightness of touch, and showed why they have lasted so long. They may get seen as derivative, but they are soaked in the classics, and know their stuff. Screamadelica is an album I have struggled with as I mentioned, but tonight it worked, and brought a new understanding to it. There is a reason it won so many awards, and is held in such high regard.
Definately a great live act, and an album you should get if you havent already (link below):