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Review Mon Mar 23 2009

Review: Primal Scream @ Metro, 3/22


Photos by Kirstie Shanley

One of the potential downfalls of a band like Primal Scream live is bridging the gaps between songs that hardly sound like the same band. Another issue is living up to glory days at this stage of a career that began concurrent with the Jesus & Mary Chain. A gaggle of fans, especially in the US where they rarely tour anymore, will go to war preaching that their best days of performing are far behind them and effectively ended when Kevin Shields left the band. While that may hold some truth, Shields is no longer with the Scream and leader Bobby Gillespie has once again switched directions with the Suicide-influenced Beautiful Future. So what do they offer when they hit the stage today?

Well, for better or worse, their entire discography essentially falls under either rock or dance music. Sounding like the same act for an entire 90 minutes may force some bands to stick with one sound or the other, but Primal Scream has compromised their music in the interest of cohesion. The acid house-inspired Screamdelica songs were stripped of Andrew Weatherall's production (but still unfortunately featured artificial backing tracks) and injected with bigger guitar hooks and livelier vocals. The aggressive electronica XTRMNTR tracks, which dominated Sunday's set, sounded less abrasive. The Stones/Faces homages "Rocks" and "Country Girl" were punched up as well. Songs separated by 15+ years came off back-to-back as if they were meant to be heard that way.


But it took a little while for the band to find their groove. "Kill All Hippies" and "Can't Go Back" got by on the audience's enthusiasm alone. And then they phoned in a few songs that didn't quite seem to gel. "Jailbird" was disjointed and the first half of "Higher than the Sun" was muddy. Though if that was an intentional calm before the storm, not a soul at Metro would've traded it in. From midway through the set until the end, the band was firing on all cylinders. You know how sometimes at a show everything feels perfect? You may think, "This is why music was invented — to sound like this right now." That's how it was for a short period.



Guitarists Andrew Innes and Barrie Cadogan were as dynamic a rhythm and lead duo as I've ever seen while Mani put on an absolute clinic. Even with Gillespie falling in and out of complete indifference (standing motionless, staring at the floor) there was no doubt about Primal Scream's onstage intensity. The six-piece steamrolled through crowd favorites "Shoot Speed", "Swastika Eyes", "Movin' On Up" and "Rocks" to end the set triumphantly. And after an extended break, they returned for a planned encore where it looked like Bobby Gillespie might've actually smiled once or twice. Even with some momentum lost to the break, they ended on top again with a pounding "Accelerator" and massive feedback to the pure delight of the crowd. And what more is there to ask of a band than performing a loaded set of favorites with all their energy? Nothing, really.


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aubrey / March 24, 2009 12:02 PM

FYI the correct title for that song is "Shoot Speed/Kill Light."

Alissa / March 24, 2009 7:15 PM

Great review and great pictures! I never thought I'd get to see Primal Scream stateside, so I was thrilled to just have that opportunity. There were times during the performance when I couldn't do anything but stare...they were just spectacular.

m / March 27, 2009 8:14 AM

oh what a night.... good one, james.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

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  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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