THE CULT and PRIMAL SCREAM, The Hollywood Palladium, November 20, 2015
Seeing these two band names on the same bill I was intrigued as I didn’t feel they had that much to do with each other musically and their audiences wouldn’t jibe together in the same venue. But talking with the fans before the show began, I realized that whichever band they were there to see, they were friendly and there to have a good time.
When the lights went down at 8:30 the Palladium was filled from front to back and the balconies were full too. I was close to the stage and ready for Primal Scream. Bobby Gillespie still looks no older than 30, guitarist Andrew Innes looked like he was on holiday with his hat and tropical print shirt. And bassist Simone Butler was channeling her inner Chrissie Hynde wearing black leather pants and white blouse right out of an early Pretenders album photo, long bangs and all.
What followed can best be described as a celebration, opening with the drony and grooving 2013, the band stripped down Accelerator to its punk core, Innes’ guitar playing white noise scrawls over a simple beat. Kill All Hippies, also from XTRMNTR followed, Primal Scream delving into jagged funk and synth samples, Gillespie singing “You’ve got the money, I’ve got the soul” as we all danced. On Shoot Speed/Kill Light, Gillespie stood with his arms raised, eyes closed, taking in the mesmerizing sounds, singing the one line over and over again, Butler laying down that vibrant melody, Innes scratching and soaring around as texture. The band brought down the volume with (I’m Gonna) Cry Myself Blind, a country-soul song with Gillespie singing “Have you ever woke up screamin’/ ’cause you’re so lonely you could die?” Somewhere someone was playing some tasty keyboards along with Innes’ licks. Martin Duffy was the man on the keys, he played on Primal Scream’s first two albums, left when Felt began and has been back with the Scream since Felt disbanded. His organ and piano truly brought the band an authenticity in the slower numbers and helped fill in the big sounds of their more modern sounding songs.
And then it was back to the nuclear disco of Swastika Eyes, Darrin Mooney pounding out that powerful beat, Butler’s bass like a muscle car engine growl, Gillespie purring lyrics quite suitable for today’s sociopolitical events: “I see your autosuggestion psychology, elimination policy/ A military industrial, illusion of democracy”. While the gospel and horns and drum loop of Loaded might seem dated and cheesy, to some, to the people at the Palladium it was a time to let loose and groove along to the simple message of the song, to “be free and do what we wanna do!” So as we shook our booties, Gillespie stalked the foot of the stage, shaking his maracas, interacting with the audience, having a blast. Innes’ crisp guitars and Mooney’s bright beat woke us from our drugged haze on Country Girl, Gillespie inviting the audience to sing the lyrics “Country girl, take my hand, lead me through this diseased land/…Country girl, got to keep on keeping on, yeah”, turning the lights on the fans as we reveled in the music. Primal Scream brought us to church for Movin’ On Up, gospel vocals backed up the lovefest, making a believer out of me, Innes punctuating the positive vibes with a powerful and melodic solo. The set ended with the Stones-y Rocks, Mooney’s Bo Diddley beat driving us to dance even harder, our hands in the air, singing along. Primal Scream’s love for older rock’n’roll styles blended with more modern club culture made for a blissful and cathartic set that energized our souls.
The Cult had something to prove after Primal Scream’s set. Opening with the mystical vibes of Horse Nation, The Cult set out to show they weren’t ready for pasture just yet. Ian Astbury dressed in black from hat to boot, Billy Duffy’s guitar low across his thigh. Next The Cult tore into Rain, the dance beat and mysterious guitars brought us back to their breakthrough album Love, as did Nirvana, the insistent bass and Duffy’s soaring and soulful guitars backed Astbury’s powerful vocals, helping us reach a place of love and happiness. Dark Energy, from their upcoming album Hidden City, brought the trademark Cult swagger, an epic bluesy rock song, Astbury’s soul-searching vocals and Duffy’s subtle guitar work are The Cult at their best. While much of the set was pounding drums and monolithic guitar riffs, when the shadowy guitar lilt of She Sells Sanctuary began I perked up enjoying the good energy put forth from the band, singing with Astbury “The fire in your eyes/ Keeps me alive”.
Throughout the set Astbury rambled on hilariously about Los Angeles traffic, inviting the fans to put down their phones and be in the here and now, talking about whatever went through his head. In the end thanking the 3500 fans in attendance for making for such a special night back in their hometown at their last show of the tour, also thanking Primal Scream. While the other members of The Cult toweled off, Astbury stayed on stage before the encore and said that the night was a celebration. For their encore the band ripped into the heavy blues of The Phoenix, Jerry Cantrell joined the band for what is essentially one long guitar workout. If that wasn’t enough to bring the house down, Thee Steve Jones helped out on Love Removal Machine to finish the night on the highest note possible.
The Primal Cult show and tour was indeed a celebration of life, of love, of live performance and audience interaction, both bands putting all their hearts into their sets, and after two and a half hours of hard rock and soulful sounds, this coupling didn’t seem odd anymore.
(Review by Bret Miller – Photos by Jack Lue)