Primal Scream


Rob Garratt


With a back catalogue the size of Primal Scream's, you approach a gig with a certain unnerving excitement. Nine albums in, you don't know what to expect from a band that have thrown their sound upside down more times than you can count, and with a turnover of personnel to rival your local fruit farm.

But in Norwich they were clearly out to rock, leaving their trippy electronic experiments behind and bombarding the audience with ravaging guitar chords and pounding rhythms.

From the techno-flavoured opener Kill All Hippies it was clear that you were witnessing one of the most established British guitar bands doing what they do best, as they strutted and swaggered over a backdrop of faux-political arty projections and eye-piercing strobe lights.

Frontman Bobby Gillespie looked like the archetypal modern rockstar, his thin and pasty heroin-addict complexion counterpointed by his trademark mullet and a smart suit jacket.

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The sound was a sea of chaotic beauty - two guitars messily thrashing over Mani's trademark bass loops with smatterings of edgy electric samples.

The room exploded with the set closer of early-90s double-header Movin' On Up and Rocks, the catchy Stones-esque chord changes translating into a thousand nodding heads. And with an encore of modern anthem Country Girl, the band seemed to be reminding us they could still write songs that big.

I went to the gig an unconvinced fan, finding their soul-searching sound-changes at times annoying and contrived. But Primal Scream have got the look, the sound and the songs to earn a place in the history of modern rock.