Primal Scream Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto ON March 24
Published Mar 25, 2009Like every one of their albums, when it comes to a Primal Scream gig you're never sure what you're gonna get. With such a variation in sound over the years, the music's live translation has as much a chance of being brilliant as it is to be a train wreck. But for their first Toronto gig since 2000, Bobby Gillespie and his gang leaned more towards the former as the chameleonic rock'n'roll survivors returned to a feverish crowd who had been waiting a few albums for this night.
Without the booming wall of sound once supplied by Kevin Shields, the stripped down yet seasoned six-piece dove into their 27-year history with the sinister groove of "Kill All Hippies." Though officially supporting their ninth album, last year's Beautiful Future, the players were as interested in their back catalogue as the observers. And while they cruised through a swaggering stomper like "Jailbird," they couldn't quite handle the immensity of acid house classic "Higher Than the Sun," killing the euphoric come down by amping up the guitars and having Bobby G howl into the mic. On top of that, "Exterminator" was virtually unrecognizable and the ill-advised Floyd-esque laser show singed my corneas.
But it was only a matter of time before the Scream hit their stride, which came in the robotic post-punk anthem "Shoot Speed/Kill Light." Acting like a spike of adrenaline, Gillespie became more and more animated, lapping up the applause by skipping around like a school kid. From that moment on they were untouchable, unloading the machinegun disco blast of "Swastika Eyes," the honky tonk vibes of "Country Girl" and delivering on Screamadelica's sanctity with a rousing "Movin' On Up" and a perfectly strung out "Damaged."
Asking if Toronto wanted to get their rocks off, they finished with a blitzkrieg of their most popular song on this side of the Atlantic ("Rocks"), followed unexpectedly by a whiplash rendition of rabble-rouser "Accelerator," which even lasers couldn't spoil.