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Primal Scream presents ‘Screamadelica’ Live + Andrew Wakeman + Kassidy @ 02 Academy – 15 March 2011

An increasing common feature amongst some older bands is to tour and play one of their ‘classic’ albums in full. Tonight is the first of two such bands I’m reviewing this week. A rare treat for fans to reminisce over past classics. So tonight it’s back to the early ’90s, to rave and acid house. After a series of successful dates, tonight Primal Scream are making their way to Birmingham to mark the twentieth anniversary of their seminal album ‘Screamadelica’.

Primal Scream were formed in ‘82 by Bobbie Gillespie and Jim Beattie. The 2011 line up includes Gillespie (who played drums with The Jesus and Marychain in the 80s), Andrew Lines (guitar), Brummie Martin Duffy (keyboards), former Stone Roses member Gary ‘Mani’ Mountford (bass) and Darrin Mooney (drums).

Initially an indie band (I saw them support Julian H. Cope in this guise) they then found acid house. With the assistance of producer Andrew Wakeman (who’s here tonight doing a DJ set) they produced the classic ‘Screamadelica’, packed with hits (including ‘Loaded’ and ‘Movin’ on Up’) and rolling mellow psychedelic tracks. While the album was a massive commercial success, the then members of the band were too wasted to play it live. They won the first Mercury Music Prize for it and promptly lost the award on the way home as they were too out of it.

Just as the audience is still arriving, to start tonight’s events on stage at 7.30pm, come support band Kassidy. Very different from Primal Scream, the band were confident with good songs, musicianship and harmonies accompanied by the lead singer’s pretty impressively deep voice. Quite an eclectic set, a mix of soft and heavy rock, yet fast and slow, in some respects similar to Nirvana with a mix of fellow Scots Franz Ferdinand when their music got ‘spikey’. Fashion wise they were an interesting mix, ranging from bearded hippy to 60’s mod with striped trousers! The band finished with a crashing finale and left the stage. The audience really seemed to appreciate them.  Maybe worth taking a look – they’re back in the Midlands soon at Wolverhampton Slade Rooms on 24th April 2011.

Then onto an hour of producer and DJ Andrew Wakeman playing a range of tracks. Unlike Heaven 17 and Tinie Tempah who have both included DJ support sets, where said DJ was playing the decks in stage, unfortunately Wakeman was invisible. The only comment I can make is that he played a PIL track.

Then it turns 9pm and it’s down to the main act – here come Primal Scream, Gillespie “Good evening Birmingham, are you ready to testify?” and onto the first track ‘Movin’ On Up’.

I have in previous reviews, questioned the sound system at the Academy. Over more recent gigs, it’s certainly improved. However, this was something different. In both of the corners at the back of the Academy were large speaker stacks. Playing bass and drums LOUD. Incredibly LOUD. Ear-bleedingly LOUD. The floor was vibrating. Now I’m used to loud gigs, I’m seen more loud rock acts than most people have had hot dinners, but this was ridiculous – probably one of the loudest gigs I’ve ever been to. (I should say that a barman took pity on us and sneaked us a pair of earplugs – we owe him a big drink!)

As such for ‘Movin’ On Up’ there was no sound balance and subsequently the vocals and the other half of the expectant sounds, were wiped out. The audience meanwhile, whilst moving away from being too close to the stacks, appeared to be on the whole reveling in the nostalgia of it all, the now late thirty/ forty-somethings able to forget their responsibilities and take a trip on back to the days of festivals and raves.

Gillespie isn’t the chatty type. Lanky and slightly scrawny and dressed in red shirt plus jacket, but looking pretty good given his previous hard-living reputation, he barely spoke, dancing around in a manner Bez would be impressed with.

‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’ was a great song to revel in, while the lighter, more melodic trippy tracks ‘Higher than the Sun’ and ‘Inner Flight’ took you right back to the summer of hedonism, of being out your face at open air festivals, lying on the grass in the sun. The set was fully accompanied by dry ice and orange and red lazer effects. And as the set went on the tracks extended and became longer and longer, and rolled on, and on….

Then the crowd came out of their trance, the bass got LOUDER and here came ‘Loaded’ followed by even LOUDER sirens introducing ‘Come Together’  – an excuse for people to let rip on the old rave – clearly now a form of bad dad dancing!

Then ‘Screamadelica’ was over and so to the encore, Gillespie “We’re gonna play some rock n roll” and so onto Primal Scream’s next guise of rock and roll band.  So here were their three main hits from this genre ‘Country Girl’, ‘Jailbird’ and the addictive ‘Rocks’.

Primal Scream were never a truly great band. But what they did achieve was ‘Screamadelica’ – capturing a moment in time when dance and rave was the main scene. It is indeed a classic album. And ‘Rocks’ is one of those tracks that you instantly click into when you hear it on the radio. And they did give a great show tonight and the audience clearly enjoyed it.

The spoiler on it for me, there was no need to ramp the speakers up so loudly, it really was wholly unnecessary and took away from the gig. Tickets were £30 – and if this is your thang, then go along, you will enjoy the nostalgia and reveling. But seriously, just make sure you take earplugs – cos if it’s anything like tonight – it’s gonna be a loud one!

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Setlist:

Screamadelia (in full)

Encore:

1. Country Girl

2. Jailbird

3. Rocks

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Listening:

Screamadelia (1991) remastered (2011)

Give Out But Don’t Give Up (1994)