As I arrived at Plug in Sheffield the support band were just about to start and the venue was almost empty. Half an hour later, as they were just winding up, the room was crammed full of people eagerly anticipating a rare appearance by Primal Scream.
The support band were Bo Ningen and despite the initial low attendance the crowd eventually warmed to them. Their first few tracks were treated with an air of shock and suspicion, but as the Japanese quartet progressed people got increasingly into it until they were completely won over. They aren’t in anyway put off by the numbers in the room as they thrash out loud, energetic, and eccentric psych-rock as if they are headlining an arena. Their lead singer is flamboyantly and asexually dressed, and the drummer is the spitting image of Jason Momoa as Aquaman. Bo Ningen are experimental and incomparable. They rattled through a short set before ending on a mammoth drawn out track. As the strobes flash and the lead singer climbs on some equipment, before jumping off in a big rock ’n’ roll finish, they have definitely gained a few fans.
The room then filled to capacity as cult heroes Primal Scream arrived. This tour is to promote their latest album “Chaosmosis” but any fears that their older material would be sacrificed to make way for a “Chaosmosis” heavy set were instantly allayed as they opened with “Accelerator”, from their 2000 album “XTRMNTR”. It was a perfectly balanced mix of brand new music and old favourites, as only one third of the songs they played were from Chaosmosis. The first of these new tracks was “Where The Light Gets In”, which whilst succeeding in firing up an already excited audience seemed to be lacking a little something in the absence of Sky Ferreira.
The band are on typically fine form but lead singer Bobby Gillespie seems tired. He is staring blankly ahead and delivering vocals which are occasionally damp, but being the professional he is he battles through. At times he seems aware of his performance slipping and makes a conscious effort to fire himself up, not wanting to disappoint his adoring fans. By the time they play “(Feeling Like A) Demon Again” he has come alive, and when they slow things down with “(I’m Gonna) Cry Myself Blind” his vocals really shone.
From this point the set built towards an uplifting and climactic finish. They hammered out classics such as “Swastika Eyes”, “Loaded” and “Country Girl” before leaving the stage pre-encore with Bobby shouting ‘I don’t want to lose your love’ during the finale of “Loaded” was genuinely rousing and reminded us all just why we hold them in such high regard.
After a short break the band returned with Bobby now much more himself, enticing the crowd, interacting with them and giving a spellbinding performance. The encore began with “Come Together”, during which Gillespie refers to the audience as ‘Sheffield City Gospel Choir’ as they passionately sang along with the chorus. “Come Together” was followed by “Movin’ On Up” which saw the ‘Sheffield City Gospel Choir’ singing so loud that they almost drowned the on-stage vocals out. The set concluded with a joyous rendition of “Rocks” showing that even if they are having a slightly off day Primal Scream are still the unachievable yard stick that everyone else is aiming towards.