BLACK TO COMM - PRIMAL SCREAM AND MC5 8th September 2011
Never before had the Meltdown banner seemed more suitable than on the night of June 24, 2008, when Primal Scream shared a bill with the MC5 at the much-revered event held annually at the Royal Festival Hall. The festival has seen many strange, unique and wonderful events, but few as incendiary, or even historic, as the fusion of Primal Scream and the MC5.
Maybe surprisingly, this was at the behest of Massive Attack, Bristol's uncompromising slow-mo dub-charged colossus who curated this event. Michael admits to being bowled over to discover the Primal Scream's support for his old band, but was shocked when Massive Attack requested their appearance in their Meltdown line-up.
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"It is so cool that the Massive Attack guys even know who we are. I'm a fan of theirs too, so I guess that for me it makes perfect sense. They are true originals, and really creative. I am honoured that they would have us!"
For many, it was a dream match, not least for Primal Scream, who have made no secret of their devotion to the Detroit demons since day one.
"I never thought I'd even see them play live," reflects Bobby. "I used to take magic mushrooms or acid and listen to the MC5, imagining that I was in the Grande Ballroom. Then, here we are [40 years later] up on a stage playing with them. I found a ticket from that gig the other day while I was clearing out some cupboards, and started thinking about it. It was amazing..."
To the Scream's delight, the feeling turned out to be mutual, bassist Michael Davis stating, "The Primals tear it up. I was really proud that they wanted us."
Primal Scream pile into the likes of 'Accelerator' and 'Miss Lucifer', before a stretch of new songs including bell-strewn title track, 'Suicide Bomb', mesmerizingly atmospheric 'Uptown' and gorgeously melancholic 'Beautiful Summer', augmented by Melanie Draisey's poignant violin.
A pummelling 'Kowalski' gets the crown on their feet, before the cathartic motoric of 'Shoot Speed Kill Light' and surging sirens of 'Swastika Eyes'.
Davis, Wayne Kramer and drummer Dennis 'Machine Gun' Thompson were joined by second guitarist Adam Pearson and singer William DuVall from Alice In Chains. Cutting a dapper figure with his stars 'n' stripes guitar, Kramer's first opening salvo kicks off 'Ramblin' Rose'. He is the consummate showman, strutting and interacting with the front rows. Thompson looks like he's about to pulp his kit, but exhibits that effortless fingertip-powerhouse style.
These songs sound tracked America's punk-predating political counter culture: 'Kick Out The Jams', 'Come Together', 'Motor City Is Burning' plus Back In The USA highlights including 'Call Me Animal' and 'American Ruse'. Scream fave 'Sister Anne', from third album 'High Time', follows next, Kramer's harmonica replacing the original's brass. Duvall makes a charismatic natural to front them. Like the Scream, the Five have got to the point where their spirit lives larger than the human beings who still carry it.
Then a collective shudder of delight ripples through the crowd as two singers, four guitarists, two bassists, two drummers and a piano-player look at each other and, after Bobby has referenced Jim Morrison's 'Is Everybody In? The Ceremony Is About To Begin', kick into the blazing garage crank of early Five song 'I Can Only Give You Everything'.
Primal Scream's locomotive 'Skull X' and a 'Movin' On Up' swell into one glorious, spine-tingling testimonial, with the whole hall singing and going crazy. "I've been waiting 25 years for this," declares Andrew Innes.
This was more than just token encore jamming, when like minds clamber up and plug in, the connection is made!
'Black to Comm' is available on DVD or 2xCD +DVD Deluxe Edition – featuring the complete performances by two of the world's best and most renowned rock 'n' roll bands captured on film and surround sound. Over two and a half hours of none stop premiere rock 'n' roll.
Ramblin Rose 3:34
Kick Out The Jams 4:07
Come Together 5:02
Motor City is Burning 4:26
Call Me Animal 3:03
Sister Anne 6:43
I Want You Right Now 4:26
Over And Over 5:37
Looking At You 5:48
I Believe To My Soul 6:02
Human Being Lawnmower 5:00
The American Ruse 5:24
Primal Scream And MC5
I Can Only Give You Everything 3:38
Movin On Up 5:15
Skull X 3:43
Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa (Rocket Reducer No.62) 3:19
Black To Comm (feat. John Sinclair ) 14:07