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Primal Scream
Live review...
Primal Scream, Spiritualized
After a fire announcement (think Father Ted doing an airplane safety drill) we mosey into the tent, almost shocked as Spiritualized take the stage bang on the advertised time. This takes us, and most of the punters by surprise as the place is empty, enjoying as we were, a pleasant evening by the river.

But back to Spiritualized. Although a band in name, this is really the Jason Spaceman show. This Dorian Grey figure just exudes detached cool, to the extent that he gets away with sunglasses indoors. This is music for the soul, heavy on the religious imagery, apt for the Cathedral next door, all as allegory for his long-suffering love-hate relationship with drugs and life, based on blues and gospel.

And religion is an apt theme, for Spiritualized invoke an almost religious fervour amongst their fans. The soaring, spiralling guitars and emotional gospel overload of 'Come Together', 'I Think I'm In Love' and 'Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space' (from the seminal album of the same name), provide a mid-set triple whammy that is the gigs highlight. Closing on an extended jam of pounding drums and repeated riffs, distortion, strobes and beats, the normally calm Spaceman ends by trashing his guitar and amp before striding off, while his guitar tech looks on shaking his head. Maybe that means he enjoyed the gig as much as we did.

Headlining this double-bill extravaganza are the old warriors, Primal Scream. They may no longer be quite as essential or chaotically brilliant as they once were, but they're now a consistent lean mean, gigging machine with a back catalogue of hits and enough experience to know to give a crowd what it wants. Tonight this means being introduced on-stage by celeb-fan (and adopted Galway native) Irvine Welsh, and alternating the new album with classics rattling off 'Can't Go Back', the country-fried rock of 'Jailbird' and 'Beautiful Future' (the title track of their most recent album) in quick succession, and getting rid of the much-maligned (but better than on first release) 'Country Girl' before dedicating a number to their gigging partners Spiritualized.  In these uber-tight and professional few numbers, a worrying comparison comes to mind - Status Quo, a group of older gentlemen beating out what are now for the most part quite safe numbers, and a couple of really bad shirts as well.  

Thank god 'Miss Lucifer' kept us going, and then, thankfully, the XTRMNTR and Evil Heat material (and possibly the booze and drugs) kick in and the crowd move into top gear. 'Suicide Bomb' with it's distended and detached vocals ends in a wall of strobes and guitar, while 'Shoot Speed/Kill Light' allows guitarists Innes and Cadogan to resume their Status Quo antics by pretending to shoot us all. An air-raid siren warns of the approaching 'Swastika Eyes' which whips the crowd up even more than the prowling bouncing Bobby Gillespie (and security) can cope with, as a lone fan breaks the ranks and makes the stage for a brief invasion before we're invited to testify for 'Movin' On Up' and closer 'Rocks' brings the approval of comedian Tommy Tiernan, watching from the side of the stage. An all too brief one-song encore allows them to just milk the acclaim and to ensure that the 10-year-old kid in the front row gets a full set of sticks and picks from the band. Something for everyone, then.

William Johnston

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Gig Details
Venue: Festival Big Top
Location: Galway
Date: 24/7/2009


Related Links
+ Primal Scream
+ Spiritualized