Primal Scream remind a celebratory Hogmanay crowd why Screamadelica remains the ultimate party record, writes Piers Barber.
Hogmanay in Edinburgh, past the pissing on the street and seemingly desperate attempts to consume as many cans of Tennents as is physically possible in the space of a single evening, is a euphoric occasion – a chance to and see in the New Year with some special people against the backdrop of this perfect city. Unlike most events on this notoriously underwhelming night, New Year in Edinburgh is a party that never disappoints. Primal Scream, with their tantalising back catalogue combining gritty rock and roll, dub and acid house, seem an ideal band to headline this year’s Party in the Gardens, and tonight, despite the Scottish weather’s best attempts, they do not disappoint.
The band arrive in Edinburgh to conclude their 2011 tour of Screamadelica, their much celebrated 1991 record widely considered as a seminal moment in rock history. Despite initial fears that a tour of an album so defined by the exact moment of its conception could possibly underwhelm in modern arenas, the tour has been a major success, attracting a whole host of new fans to the band’s tasty back catalogue and providing many with a favourite festival moment of 2011.
Tonight, with the iconic Edinburgh castle and the murky, fascinating buildings of the city’s Old Town forming an idyllic background to a makeshift stage in the Princes Street Gardens, a celebratory crowd gather to catch a keenly anticipated show. Before Primal Scream, however, comes Bombay Bicycle Club, who tonight struggle to overcome problems with sound and the impatient makeup of an older audience. Whilst the band have done much this year to secure a widespread fanbase, the juxtaposition of their music with the groundbreaking work of Primal Scream unfortunately highlights the relatively bland basis of their playful indie rock. Despite an underwhelming performance, the band are clearly happy to be invited, and can refreshingly be seen enjoying a beer with fans just minutes after the conclusion of their set.
The mood in the arena is instantly shifted with the first bars of the superb ‘Movin’ On Up’, surely one of the most joyous opening tracks in rock history. It is followed by three further tracks from Screamadelica, including the wonderfully trippy ‘Slip Inside This House’ and the raw groove of ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’. The band end the first half of their show with ‘Shoot Speed/Kill Light’, a tense, strobe light of a track characterised by its menacing baseline taken from the end of album XTRMNTR.
Following the conventional Hogmanay’s firework display and rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, the band return to the stage as the heavens open, driving away the fair weather fans and leaving only a dedicated group ready to answer the band’s essentially trademarked question: “Just what is it that you want to do?”. The subsequent ‘Loaded’ is dominated by screeching guitars and deliciously confident horn blasts, and turns the crowd delirious. The euphoric singalong of ‘Come Together’ is followed by ‘Swastika Eyes’, a pounding, looped electronic piece which recalls the likes of Orbital and early Chemical Brothers. To close, the band decide to embrace the rock and roll with which they first established their musical standing. As they reel out such rock’n’roll classics as ‘Country Girl’, ‘Jailbird’ and ‘Rocks’, a thrilled audience cannot help but be impressed by the band’s momentous back catalogue.
Primal Scream, with their tantalising back catalogue combining gritty rock and roll, dub and acid house, seem an ideal band to headline this year’s Party in the Gardens, and tonight, despite the Scottish weather’s best attempts, they do not disappoint.
With a new album rumoured for the second half of the year and bassist Mani leaving the band’s touring party after tonight’s show to focus on the Stone Roses upcoming reunion tour, 2012 promises to be a significant year for Primal Scream. For now though, few are concerned by anything more than than making the most of the frantic Edinburgh night ahead. Memories of this show are, quite understandably, more hazy than most. At the time at least, there seemed no more perfect way of seeing in 2012.
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