Screamadelica Live

January 01, 1970

(Eagle Vision; 120 mins)




Paint it black, you devils.


Primal Scream fans unlucky enough not to be able to attend
the British band’s pair of Screamadelica concerts last November 26 and 27 in London were still served reasonably well,
first by the BBC (which aired most of first evening live) and later by assorted
music blogs (that posted downloads of the show, in some cases within a few
minutes of the final notes – see our report elsewhere on the BLURT site about
this). And of course audience-shot videos started surfacing fairly speedily on
YouTube as well. The visceral thrill one may have gotten upon listening to MP3s
and watching clips of the Screamadelica set, however, is no match for the combined adrenal-shock therapy and Ecstasy drip
supplied by the official Screamadelica
(Eagle Vision), a DVD/CD package.


The audio disc showcases the live rendition of the classic
’91 album, but the DVD serves up the entire show from the 26th including the 8-song “Rock and Roll” set that opened the concert. (There’s also
a Blu-ray edition that adds the “Classic Albums” documentary about the making
of Screamadelica.) Following a brief
POV sequence whereby “you” arrive at the Olympia Grant Hall and pick up your
ticket at box office, it’s a full-tilt swan-dive into the melee as the band,
abetted by a thoroughly disorienting blast of strobe lights, is thrashing
through the punk-powered “Accelerator” like it’s 1969 all over again and
they’re onstage in Detroit instead of London. Here the band – a
delightfully pedigreed lineup of frontman Bobby Gillespie, guitarists Andrew
Innes and Barrie Cadogan, keyboardist Martin Duffy, drummer Darrin Moody and
the inimitable Mani on bass – resembles nothing if not a thundering, swaggering
amalgam of the Stooges and MC5, with frontman Bobby Gillespie, in his long
straight hair and serpentine moves, channeling the young Iggy Pop. And the
material, from the throbbing, funky “Jailbird” and the “TV Eye”-esque
psychedelia of “”Burning Wheel” to the anthemic manifesto (right down to
Gillespie’s partial “heil” hand salutes) that is “Swastika Eyes” and pounding
set-closer “Rocks,” doesn’t let up for a moment. The accompanying trippy light
show reinforces the impression that all assembled have been transported back in
time to the Motor
City’s Grande Ballroom or
either coast’s Fillmore.


(The audio, incidentally, is superb, boasting a clean,
full-spectrum mix that, given the options of Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby
Digital 5.1 or DTS Surround, should serve the viewer well on pretty much any
form of entertainment center. If you happened to download the MP3s of the BBC
broadcast, like I did, you’ll be impressed by the sonic upgrade.)



The evening’s second set is, of course, Screamadelica, the band changing into fresh stage outfits for the
occasion, and if the rock set represented an homage to Iggy & Co., then this
segment finds the band morphing into nothing less than the Rolling Stones,
joined onstage by a 3-piece horn section and a 5-person gospel mini-choir.


Due mention should be made of visual artist Jim Lambie’s films.
Projected onto a massive three-paneled backdrop, they include giant globs of
paint streaming downward and cornea-shearing multicolored bull’s-eyes that seem
to leap outward. Along with assorted bursts of lasers and fit-inducing strobes,
the cumulative effect is hypnotically immersive and thrilling. For the DVD,
director George Scott, editor Phil McDonald and photography director Grant
Fleming weren’t shy about showcasing these visuals, either; your home viewing
experience comes remarkably close to what it must have been that night in the


“Movin’ On Up” opens the set, as it did the album in 1991,
followed by a kinetic reading of 13th Floor Elevators’ classic “Slip
Inside This House” and an uber-funky “Don’t Fight It, Feel It” featuring guest
Mary Pearce recreating Denise Johnson’s ramalama-fa-fa-fa album vocal parts for
the occasion. Yet in a canny move, Primal Scream shuffles the record’s original
song sequence around in order that the middle portion now focuses on the
dreamier ballads and atmospheric material while powerhouse tracks “Loaded” and
“Come Together” close things out. It proves to be a not-insignificant strategy,
altering the entire dynamic of the album and effectively recasting it as a bold
new artistic statement, one that by some reckonings may actually be stronger
than the studio incarnation. By the time the final half hour – of a nearly
80-minute Screamadelica set – rolls
around, the whole room is a psychic pressure cooker itching for release, rather
than the gentle come-down that marked the LP.


And the band does not disappoint, churning out wave after
wave of deeply-felt grooves, cresting dynamics and propulsive bliss-out.


The celebration kicks into high gear near the end of “Higher
Than the Sun,” as cortex-massaging deep dub becomes an extended psychedelic jam
(it includes Innes’ interpolation of the key riff from Funkadelic’s “Mommy,
What’s a Funkadelic?”) en route to the familiar Wild Angels/Peter Fonda soundbyte
intro for “Loaded.” The song unfurls purposefully, and with its signature
classic soul bassline, bongo/tabla percussion loop, recurring piano riff and Gillespie’s
impromptu “whoo-wooh” vocal chant, “Loaded” could very well be “Sympathy For
the Devil Mk. 2011; the horns and gospel singers help seal the deal, all 14
minutes of it. By the time “Come Together” begins to materialize in the mist,
the entire Olympia
is one swaying, heaving organism, mouthing this love, peace & happiness
call to arms en masse. The looks on
the faces of the band members say it all: mission


A few moments before the end of “Come Together” the camera
pans into the audience to focus on an attractive young couple right when the
guy is wrapping his arms around the girl and leaning in for a kiss. The camera
lingers on her face momentarily, and intentionally or not, she beams and purses
her lips as if to blow a kiss at you, the viewer.


A tiny, but telling, detail. Come together, indeed.





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