Monday, 9 November 2009

gigsplurge 1: primal scream, jan 2000

Primal Scream, Oxford Zodiac, 19 January 2000

A belting start, at least. Primal Scream missed a trick by not splitting up at the beginning of the decade. With three-and-a-half good-to-great albums from Screamadelica to Xtrmntr they would have been prime candidates for reunion money and the 'Don't Look Back' treatment.

This gig was big news at the time: a secret show by a band at the height of its powers, warming up for much bigger venues. By the end of a decade in which they did nothing of particular relevance or elegance, the 500-ish capacity Zodiac looks about their size.

Not that terminal decline seemed likely at the time. The band was augmented both by Mani from the Stone Roses, and My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields on, I guess, rhythm guitar. A supergroup without an ounce of bloat or self-indulgence, this line-up was only rivalled by Song For The Deaf-era Queens of the Stone Age.

What happened? Over-driven guitars, deafening house beats and agit-prop sloganeering seemed as decent route as any out of Britpop, avoiding both string sections and ideas nicked from Pavement. A couple of lousy bands followed their lead--Cooper Temple Clause and Kasabian spring to mind--but within a short time, listeners opted for backward-looking guitar bands with more modest ambitions. And, indeed, for the band featuring in gigsplurge 2....

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