It's the summer, it's 1994, I'm 11 years old and I've memorised the words to 'Rocks' by Primal Scream, reciting the chorus word-for-word wherever I go - the newsagent, ballet lessons, family barbecues - with one aim, to antagonise and frustrate my mother. This was my earliest memory and the beginning of my long-standing love affair with Primal Scream.
Fast-forward the clock nine years. I'm 20 years old, in my third year at university and harbouring a dirty little secret. I really fancy Bobby Gillespie LIKE really fancy him. I want to FUCK Bobby Gillespie. I mean, what's there not to love about this dour, surly Scot whose waist is no bigger than your right thigh?
Here I am, 10 years later, slightly older, wiser (that’s debatable) at London’s Hospital Club eagerly waiting for the man himself to grace the stage. My inner teen is going stir-crazy at the prospect of being within groping distance of Bobby G - I could die right now and be happy. That’s a bit much, right? Fuck it, it’s true.
Primal Scream are about to take to the stage as part of the Barclaycard Mercury Prize session ahead of the eagerly awaited release of their tenth album, More Light. But, up first in supporting role are London’s innovative and very much of-the-moment electro-pop duo AlunaGeorge.
Aluna Francis sashays onto the stage with such composed confidence, greeting the audience with a nod, perhaps in acknowledgement of the slightly awkward atmosphere (let’s face it, 95% of the crowd are here waiting to see Gillespie) before giving George Reid the green light to work his magic and that he does. This lad's productions skills are phenomenal and their track ‘Diver’ is testament to that. It’s a stunner with voice-manipulation and drum programming that’s reminiscent of an early James Blake mixed with a futuristic 90s R’n’B vibe.
Francis's voice is a little like Marmite, you'll either love it or you'll want to put your fingers in your ears. Despite my dislike for the aforementioned yeast extract I’m all over Francis' vocals; they’re intense, ethereal, and at one point cover my body in goosebumps.
From pop newbies to rock royalty, the moment we’ve all been waiting for….
Gillespie, looking svelte and dressed in flared trousers and a sweet cowboy shirt, glides on stage like a cocky kid from south London, commanding the crowd to “have a good time” and “take their clothes off”. Believe me, for a split second I actually considered taking his lead before realising how early in the evening it was and how inappropriate it would be to storm the stage with the girls out.
Gillespie looks good. REALLY good.
The band launch into an energetic set, kicking off proceedings with the trumpet-laden track ‘2013’ and ‘Hit Void’ which whips the predominately 30+ audience into a rock’n’roll frenzy. The guy behind me is grinning from ear to ear and mouthing to his pals “This is proper music” and he’s right.
New single ‘It’s Alright, It’s Okay’, written by Gillespie and Andrew Innes, sounds like the Primal Scream of old and gets everyone moving - It’s vintage Primal Scream that.
As the show edges towards it’s conclusion Gillespie forgets the lyrics to album track ‘Invisible City’ resulting in an unplanned encore. Belts out crowd-pleaser “Country Girl’ and ends with the timeless, ridiculously catchy and personal favourite, ‘Rocks’.
Unfortunately, and much to my annoyance, no tracks from Screamadelica were played during the session but it’s OK; we’ve all witnessed something pretty special and I’ve got as close as I’m ever going to get to the man who featured in a many of my teenage dreams.
Primal Scream exudes a level of energy that’s befitting of a band half their age and Gillespie’s performance was mesmerising, arresting and had the entire audience transfixed. He’s a legend. Fact. Young musicians take note.