Primal Scream @ The Forum, Melbourne – Sunday, February 18, 2018

Who’s a rock star? Bobby Gillespie is a rock star. But more on him shortly.

A triple bill at Melbourne’s best live venue, our openers for the evening were SSHH. It is a pairing of Ringo’s son Zak Starkey and Sydney singer Sharna ‘Sshh’ Liguz, the latter of whom has a kind of Toyah Wilcox meets Fiona Horne via Tourette’s thing going on, as with ring-in drummer they plummeted through everything from a Grace Jones cover to an onstage penguin invasion.

Sydney’s Leimbach brothers and friends – aka Lime Cordiale – popped up proceedings next, with a slick set of Kooks-esque breeziness that brought many a smile (or was that just the outbreaks of Dexys-inspired attire?) We’re surprised that – after some half a dozen years and with a swag of fun songs and accompanying vids – they haven’t broken through more by now. Maybe it’s the name?

The main attraction tumbled on-stage a bit after 10pm, with Bobby Gillespie effortlessly pulling off a bright red two-piece suit. You can’t just want to be a pure rock star and actually become one, it’s something that’s innate, and Gillespie oozes it. His graceful floppiness enraptures, as they launch into their take on The 13th Floor Elevators’ Slip Inside this House, quickly followed by Jailbird.

Crowd reaction was fairly muted as most albums from the catalogue were plundered here and there, ranging from the relentlessness of Exterminator to the trippiness (even when guitar-led) of Higher Than the Sun and the sweetness of (I’m Gonna) Cry Myself Blind.

Swastika Eyes started to perk things up, and as the Scream launched into breakthrough smash Loaded it was as if the previously hesitant crowd had been instantly replaced with a sea of lurching, raging rave beasts. A blistering Country Girl kept up the pace, and Rocks went off. Then the band went off…

The buzz remained as they returned minutes later, with Gillespie offering the option of a quiet song and two loud ones, or just two of the latter. The wise audience took a breather to the building blocks of Loaded, I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have, before getting to let fly on an extended Come Together groove complete with singalong, and finale of the one there’d be a riot without, Movin’ On Up.

While many of their ’80s and ’90s indie peers haphazardly try to keep the dream alive, on this showing Primal Scream remain vital. Having a bona fide rock star as your main man helps, of course.

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