Last night I went to see Primal Scream. I’m not a massive fan in general. I loved their third record, liked their second record, and liked parts of their fourth, fifth and sixth records. Not bothered listening to any of their albums since then. But between 1990 and 1992, I loved them. I’ve seen them five times before. First time was around the time Higher Than the Sun came out in the summer of 1991 at the Marcus Garvey Centre, Nottingham. They were supported by The Orb and Andrew Weatherall. It was a magnificent night. Saw them in a big arena (can’t remember which one) with The Orb again. I also saw them at Rock City, Nottingham around the time of Give Out But Don’t Give Up. Saw them at the Hummingbird in Birmingham. Not sure when that was. And I saw them at Victoria Park in Mile End at some point in the late nineties, ’97 maybe.
And last night, I saw them for a sixth time. I was quite excited when I first heard that it was gonna be a “Screamadelica” concert, especially knowing that it was the night before my birthday. Yay. The venue was this big circus-shaped place called Centro De Espectáculos Premier. I guess it holds around 3,000 people. It looked like on any other night, it’d be full of men in suits, wide collars, and a crap-ton of hair gel; kinda like a provincial British night club.
The song I heard when some friends and I walked in was Jesus on the Payroll by Thrashing Doves. A fine tune. It was kinda nice to walk into a venue knowing that I’d be listening to a 20 year old album being played by a band, and hearing contemporaneous music straight away. There was definitely a nice timewarp element for my brain. Danny Rampling was DJing, and it was one of those DJ sets where every new song was like, “fucking hell, I’ve not heard this for aaaaaages!” Stuff like What Time is Love? by The KLF, Love is Contagious by Taja Sevelle, and the absolutely fantastic Driving Away From Home by It’s Immaterial. God, I love that song.
I’d not drank alcohol for three weeks because of my dumb headaches. It’s a slightly depressing thing to note about yourself that you tend to get miserable without drink for just three weeks. Most of that misery, though, is because of the headaches, but still, the fact that I couldn’t drink didn’t help. It really does make me realise that I should never ever allow myself to become an alcoholic. Obviously it’s a horrible thing to be an alcoholic, but for me, I just don’t want to ever have to stop drinking. I enjoy it too much. First drink I had was water. Then I took a tentative sip of a friend’s beer, waited ten minutes: no headache signs. Fuck it. Got myself a beer. Then another. And I was like a thirsty man in a desert all night. Beer, for lack of a better word, is good.
The DJ played Sympathy for the Devil, and then the band came on. Kind of a bold choice to come on after such a good song. As they came on stage, I looked at my watch (one of those habits one picks up, seeing how long a band plays for) and it was ten seconds to midnight, and a few seconds into my birthday they started playing Movin’ On Up. I’m not much of a dancer in general. And when I’ve been at places where dancing occurs in Mexico, people dance all fancy, moving their feet and hips and stuff. Coming from that British shuffly school of dancing, that’s tough to get to grips with. But last night, the shuffles kicked in, and I’m fairly sure I was doing exactly as I was doing twenty years ago. Every now and again, there’d be one of those really clear moments where you are aware of something. This was what I loved twenty years ago. And the birthday made that even clearer. Twenty years ago, I’d have scoffed at someone going to see a band playing twenty-year-old music. But things change, your mind isn’t as certain, and, well, I want to see Primal Scream play a record that reminds me of being young. Most of the people in the crowd seemed to be too young to have been around twenty years ago, but there were some. (And, incidentally, I’m fairly sure there were a smattering of Brits there, too. There’s something about British faces: they’re easy to spot in a crowd of non-Brits.
Like most places in the world, there’s an indoor smoking ban in Mexico. Not really enforced last night, though. Apologies to the non-smokers out there (although, the rabid *cough-cough-cough* type of non-smokers can fuck off), but I broke the rules. Smoking and drinking are fun when watching a band. And, really, sticking to the rules when no-one else is sticking to the rules is pointless. Plus, y’know, it was my birthday. Another thing that enhanced my evening was the green lasers that they had in the venue. Maybe it’s because of the night club experiences I had in my early twenties, but to me, the pinnacle of night club visual entertainment will always be a shitload of dry ice and those lines of green laser beams in the air. Damn, I love that stuff.
The band didn’t really stick to the tracklisting of Screamadelica like other bands tend to do when they play an album live. They skipped around a little. This was the set list (and somebody in the crowd put some clips of the show up on YouTube, so should you be interested I’m fairly sure you know how to access those clips):
Movin’ On Up
Slip Inside This House
Don’t Fight It, Feel It
I’m Comin’ Down
Higher Than the Sun (both the regular and dub versions)
Come Together (another clip of the end of the song)
The last three songs sounded fantastic. I especially liked Come Together because it started out like the album version, then went into the original 12″ more singing-y version; a version that when I used to DJ at a night club in Lincoln in 1991-2, I used to play as the last song every night. The band played Country Girl, Jailbird, and Rocks for the encore. The only slight disappointment was not hearing anything off of Vanishing Point in the encore, but that’s a minor quibble.
After the band finished, something else reminded me of that first time seeing the band. Back then, Primal Scream hadn’t really been doing “dancey” music for that long. A lot of the people at the show were skinny jeans, black hair indie kids who buggered off once the band had finished, missing out completely on the wonders of Andrew Weatherall. Last night was kinda similar. I have no idea who the DJ was after the band, but he was playing some great music. I kept on dancing, a wee bit drunk, but doing the Lincolnshire shuffle in my own little world, as the people all around dispersed. I could’ve kept on shuffling for a while, but it was a wee bit sad seeing such an empty dancefloor. Again, a minor quibble, but a wee bit more of a quibble than my previous quibble. I like the word “quibble.”
The exact opposite of a quibble was the prices of the t-shirts. 20 pesos. Twenty pesos. That’s 99.3 British pence. Less than a quid. That’s €1.15. US$1.57. CAN$1.57. For an official t-shirt at a concert. You know this already, but concert merch is a rip-off. Unless you live in México. (Although, my flatmate’s boyfriend said that the 20 peso price is incredibly unusual, and normally it’s more in line with regular concert t-shirt prices.) But I bought one, the Screamadelica t-shirt, the red one. I had one of those back in the day and wore it to its death. This new one has “méxico 11” on it too. There was a time when my whole wardrobe was band t-shirts. Now, though, the only one I own is this one. Hopefully, I’ll be shuffling around, drinking Coronas, and buying a Screamadelica t-shirt at a concert somewhere in the world in 2031, too.
(And I know what you’re thinking: on the venue’s logo above the stage in the photo at the top of this post, the M in Premier is the wrong way around. I know. It was bugging me all night.)