Primal Scream: Beautiful Days Festival – live review

Primal Scream

Beautiful Days Festival

17th August 2013

Its fair to say that Primal Scream have been through many phases- psych guitar classicists with a Glaswegian heart, tripped out uberlords of ecstatic dance, vintage purveyors of Stonesy groove, dark comedown kraut motornik kings, gozoid lovers of the palace of rock n roll excess, high octane guitar revolutionaries but this 21st century version is one that I’m liking the most.

As they kick off with this years stunning molten, hypnotic trip of 2013 you realise that suddenly the Primals have become a full on showband, That chrysalis of old school indie and post punk cool which was attractive in its own way has been out grown and a full on butterfly on the wheel of the madman dance of rock n roll has been unveiled.

They still retain all those former incarnations of their former selves but have added a life affirming joy to their thing. Growing out of punk everyone was cursed and blessed with this anti-attitude, a perma scowl that was reinforced by the Thatcher years. The Primals did this with their own cool, an in built Glaswegian thing but the modern version of the band is now confident enough to give a full on show that brings down the house or field with its own sex, style and subversion- the three classic pillars of Malcolm Mclaren’s rock n roll blueprint

They also do this was an astonishing set that is a real musical trip pulling from all corners of the holy stuff that sometimes is tripping deep into the avant garde and turning it into good time party music- thats some trick to pull of and the band are so on fire that they can pull it off.

This is in no small part down to the current line up that has reinvigorated the old warhorse and added youthful vigor and swagger to the proceedings. Guitarist Little Barrie looks like he was born to be in this band, raggle taggle black hair and licorice legs he swings his guitar like a machine gun and has the time of his life and is also a damn fine player complementing boss man and co-arch creative droog of the band Innes perfectly, Simone Marie Butler is the perfect Primal bass player, replacing the great Mani was never going to be easy as he is one of the genuine greats  but she adds a whole new dynamic to the band with a slinky sexiness to the grooves and inhabits the songs with a hip swinging bass undertow. They also currently have their best ever drummer a real powerhouse and Duffy’s keys have the dark funk about them, all this seems to have set Bobby Gillespie on fire and where he would once hang in the mic in a pale faced cool he now dances across the stage, having a good time, dancing on the bones of rock n roll, the showman.

Primal Scream were great tonight.

The music fuses into an endless whole, a real 21st century rock n roll band and far, far more than the Stones band that some lazily tag them as. There is so much going on here from death disco of Swastika Eyes, to the kraut motornik of 2013, there are shades of post punk anti rock n roll and the sweet sticky soul of Loaded grafted back onto the chemical ballad of Im Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have, they dare to do ballads (ballads are for saps!) and pul them off with a sensitivity that is so rare in shows of this size, there is bosa nova, there is punk rock attitude and the there is pure rock no roll of Rocks- a stomping rock n roll anthem and killer guitar riff and as the hits tumble down you realise that Primal Scream are a party machine, a perfect party sound track made up of their own hits, capable of switching the moods and the feel with their own imagination and their own eclectic mix tape of hits.

A whole summer of festival shows has become a victory lap from one of the great band of its generation and backstage after the show what was once a blur of rock roll is now a blur of amiable band members with kids in tow and you know what, it feels far better for that and the band sounds far better for it. The rock n roll lifestyle was maybe necessary once but to be a great rock n roll machine at this stage of the game you have to be a human being and not a zombie and the humanity of the modern Primals oozes through their songs and that’s the real winner here.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. i was at this gig , and i have to differ , i really really am a fan of primal scream , this was the worst ive ever seen them , the sound was rubbish too :(

  2. I have always loved them and in particular Bobbie but have never seen them live. Thought the whole set was great and was blown away by ‘Im Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’. Made me feel 18 again. love it :-)


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