Primal Scream live review – Usher Hall 22/11/2016

Photo credit: Phil Guest

by Eoghan Scott

Photo credit: Phil Guest
Photo credit: Phil Guest


In a month that has brought about the election of Apprentice-star Donald J. Trump as President of the United States, and a year that has seen the UK vote to leave the EU, sometimes you just need the comfort of knowing that some things never change.

That’s not to say Bobby Gillespie and Co. have ever been content just to keep things the way they are. Over the course of 11 albums and almost three decades, the Glaswegian band has been defined by a willingness to reach out and experiment with new and exciting sounds. Even so, it’s just nice to think that Primal Scream will always be Primal Scream, regardless of what new or exciting sounds they choose to explore.

Monday night in Usher Hall saw the legendary Scottish band amongst a home crowd, so anticipation was high.

Opening act, Bo Ningen, got off to a shaky start. A crowd anticipating Primal Scream perhaps weren’t quite what the Japanese noise-rock quartet are used to, and their unwavering brand of loud discordant guitars and screeched vocals certainly shocked the audience. However, over the course of their half-hour, six-song set, the band managed to win much of the audience over. The sheer unrelenting force of the performance was clearly something that just took some getting used to – kind of like being hit over the head with a hammer long enough for it to become enjoyable. What began as muffled silence ended with hearty cheers and applause, amid the odd boo from those who refused to convert.

Nevertheless, the night was always going to belong to Primal Scream alone. Following a brief lull, the band (led by Bobby Gillespie, looking shockingly young for his 54 years) strutted onto stage and launched straight into Screamadelica opening track ‘Movin’ On Up’.


The night’s setlist focused mainly on tracks from the classic 1991 album, although over 11 albums the band have long-since cultivated enough solid hits to keep the night rolling, blending a healthy mix of psychedelic tunes with well-crafted rock’n’roll stompers (or Rolling Stones pastiches, if you want to be less polite).

Highlights of the set included a blistering version of ‘Swastika Eyes’ (the standout track from 2000’s politically-charged album XTRMNTR), an extended jam of perennial favourite ‘Loaded’, and – getting the biggest response of the night – a medley of fan-favourite tracks ‘Country Girl’ and ‘Rocks’ from Riot City Blues and Give Out But Don’t Give Up, respectively.

Never the most refined vocalist in the game, Bobby Gillespie hasn’t necessarily improved in that department over the last 30 years, but that never really seemed to matter. The frontman appears to know what he’s doing, and his panting, sing-shout delivery works just as well as is needed.

Ending the night with an epic, arms-in-the-air version of ‘Come Together’, it was plain to see that this was a band, perhaps not necessarily in their prime, but clearly without a thing needed to prove.