'Thanks Inverness, you've been beautiful!' says Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie, working off post-election blues and peacemaking at Ironworks venue
Primal Scream and The Illicits
FRIDAY’S Primal Scream gig was a great one if you were still emotionally all over the place and half dead from staying up all night from the election the night before.
And you didn’t have long to wait for a grand gesture from the frontman to take your mind off it – as simple as putting on his bold fuchsia suit and getting onstage. Like a human spirit level, he reset the world back to ‘worth living’ with the killer magenta of the sharp stagewear. It was a suit so pulsatingly pink that it flattened every other colour around down to shades of dishwater grey.
And the suit’s agenda was simple. It soaked up the vibes of every good or bad day every punter in the place had had and triggered the kind of giant grin you needed to start a spontaneous Friday night feeling – and hex any Friday the 13th bad voodoo with the power of pure colour alone.
Of course there was that little bit of help from a nightful of the band’s greatest hit singles packing in genres from rock to soul, blues to electro, garage rock to a touch of gospel, all jostling for position on their potentially best-ever 18-strong setlist culled from their Maximum Rock N Roll singles compilation.
That came after a fine retro-steeped support set from Blackburn’s The Illicits, marching in the footsteps of your Oasis, Stone Roses and other epic bands that join a select line of truculent-looking Northern masters of what their label boss Alan McGee calls “terrace punk”.
It’s a good sound and you could imagine it winning over a much larger crowd, especially new single Left Behind, then Nothing To Lose. Last, singer George Richards introduced the set killer – for the moment – current single’s B-side, Underworld’s classic Born Slippy. Illicitised.
All sounded great till something on the guitar pedal side of things for Brad Hayes went strangely silent. As he frantically tried to sort it, singer George was quietly killing himself at the guitarmeister’s predicament.
Earlier, one Illicits-smitten male punter shouted: “You better not be going away – I love you!”
Instant fans, surely no bad thing.
The highs of the Primal Scream set that followed them ranged from a seething race through XTRMNTR’s Swastika Eyes, openerDon’t Fight It, Feel It stinging us alive with the carnival whistles to start the party. And they only ended after a security guard broke his leg and Bobby and band left – then returned – to the stage, allowing time to get the casualty away for medical help.
The whole thing erupted after the band's traditional, about six-songs-towards-roof-igniting-climax that takes Primals gigs higher than the moon had started.
Loaded, with its little Sympathy For The Devil 'woo-woo's, had kicked in and Bobby Gillespie had asked "You going to help me, Inverness?" to help him get down. And to be fair, they did a great job with the decibel uppage, not to mention Andrew Innes's stonking electric guitar and a bit of Hammondy organ weaving into this section.
Then Movin' On Up was kicking in. Bobby pointed out he would like help with the next one "including the "m********kers on the – what's it called? – balcony! Are you going to help us take the roof off the place?! We had a gospel choir when we recorded this. But Inverness, could you be the gospel choir tonight?"
We could and as well as a brilliant guitar line, our big massed voices yelling out "My light shines on!" added muscle alongside the band, including a lovely Martin Duffy honky tonk keyboard line.
But as the song finished something was going on at the front of the stage on the nearside.
"Everybody stop!" said Bobby. "Guys, guys, guys, guys! No fighting! We're here to play rock n roll and dance. We're here to have a good time and come together and, you know, no violence.
"Violence is not cool. Why don't you guys kiss and make up? Come on. Hug each other, let me see you hug each other."
By this time security staff were huddled over a security guard lying in the foetal position tight into the pit next to the stage.
Two guys who had been causing a commotion near the front of the crowd on the nearside still seemed to be wrangling and word filtered through that the security man had been trying to calm them down when he had slipped on the metal crowd barrier and injured his leg.
Bobby told us: "A security guard, I think has broken his leg. The big man's in a lot of pain. So we're going to stop the gig till the big man gets some help."
At word of the stopped gig, the crowd instantly went "Aww!" and a few booed.
To that, Bobby reasoned: "Don't boo, the man's in a lot of f****** pain, so we're going to stop the gig. He was trying to stop a ...come on!"
He seemed to have seen the two guys in the crowd having some kind of go at each other.
"Guys let's not have violence. Be friends. We're here for rock n roll. Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Yeah!"
Then he told us: "They kissed and made up. OK, I think you should give us five or 10 minutes... this gentleman here is in a lot of pain, so we're going offstage till this gets sorted. But please stay and we'll be back and we'll blow your f***ing head off, OK?"
After a short while, with ambulance paramedics getting the guard onto a stretcher and out the back door, the band were back.
"Thanks for being so patient. Are we going to Come Together?" said Bobby, as the band continued with the song that would have been the first encore number to the original setlist plan.
And, yes, we still got the euphoric big set-ending singalong your Primals’ gig usually guarantees. From Come Together into a shifted forward Country Girl –retitled Highland Girl for us – and definitely one of the biggest most full-on, join-in-fests of the set which ended with an ecstatic version of their triumphant version of Rolling Stones' cover Rocks Off – and a tiny snippet of the Skye Boat Song from Bobby.
Possibly the night’s most memorable moment saw the Scot share some post-election pain and anger: “It feels quite apt after the disastrous election result – and a Tory government, that we’re up here," Bobby said, before slamming Boris Johnson as a sexist, racist and sharing a fear that “...nothing can stop him”.
"This is a song for Jacobites everywhere,” he introduced another potential set-crowning moment, a lush and heartfelt I’m Going To Cry Myself Blind.
The gloriously loud, scribbled riffs of guitarist Andrew Innes that had powered a lot of the show, sank away into a bluesy, heart-melting instinctive groove that healed and left a kind of rose-tinted glow – possibly magenta – over the Primals’ magic Friday 13th.