A packed downstairs at the O2 Academy was the venue on Thursday for two quite different bands. Support act Bo Ningen are a Japanese four-piece who specialise in beautifully noisy psychedelic rock. When starting out 10 years ago, much of their music was improvised and you can certainly hear those roots in what comes out on stage this evening. There are definitely melodies drifting around underneath the piercing surface sounds – they're a group I'd like to listen to on record before re-approaching live, I think.
Primal Scream hit the stage and with a minimum of fuss fly straight into 'Movin' On Up' from their 1991 classic album Screamadelica. The sound is broad and very electric – the song's subtleties replaced by Andrew Innes' powerful guitar. The audience becomes a less-than-tuneful gospel choir during the outro and it's clear that a fun evening lies ahead.
The beauty of Primal Scream has always been their ability to grow and adapt, tackling new sounds and fresh directions without losing their signature sound. Tonight's set consists largely of the greatest hits, shifting seamlessly from bluesy rock 'n' roll ('Jailbird' and 'Cry Myself Blind') to dense dub ('Higher Than the Sun') and right back to pop from the coolest house party ever (the always wonderful 'Loaded'). The four songs from latest album Chaosmosis are well-received but the queue for the bar definitely swells during these moments.
For me, the highlights come from their 2000 album XTRMNTR, a tougher, more electronic record than anything they'd produced before or since. 'Accelerator' comes early on in the set and is clearly a joy to play while 'Shoot Speed/Kill Light' is claustrophobic and intense. The centrepiece of the gig is 'Swastika Eyes' which always sounded a little overly paranoid but, viewed from a world in which Donald Trump can become president, might just have been written a couple of decades ahead of its time. You can hear the pure anger in Bobby Gillespie's voice, and could perhaps see it in his eyes too were it not for that magnificently limp fringe.
They end with 'Rocks', of course, and then are gone. Where their sound will take them next, who knows but, in today's tricky times, a move back towards the focused anger of XTRMNTR would certainly be an interesting one. Primal Scream might not be getting any younger but their spirit certainly still lives in on.