Primus @ Royal Albert Hall Thursday 5th April 2012.
It is probably not unreasonable to say that The Royal Albert Hall is not the first venue to spring to mind for a Primus gig, or two Primus shows as the case may be. Whilst the RAH plays host to a number of exciting and spectacular events, the idea of psycho, psychedelic, alt. rockers Primus taking to the hallowed stage is an opportunity far too tempting to miss.
The crowd is expectant and, for the most part, a little stoned. This point is ably demonstrated to us by the ‘chilled’ guy negotiating the increasingly infuriating combination of a heavy back pack, Chinese take away (?!?) and folding chair, a puzzle that would keep him occupied (and us amused) several times throughout the evening.
Back to the show though….. Primus shuffle out and launch into an epic version of ‘To Defy the Laws Of Tradition’ which is greeted with unrestrained fervour from the rapidly forming mosh pit. This does rather set the tone for the night as it meanders on for at least ten minutes and confirms the band are in no hurry this evening.
New and old sit side by side as ‘Moron TV’ gives way to ‘Frizzle Fry’ and Primus are at their electrifying best. Jay Lane and Ler (Larry LaLonde) manage to find space to shine alongside the virtuoso bass skills of Les Claypool, equally jaw dropping live as on record.
During the early part of the gig, my attention is caught by a chap just to the side of the stage, clearly in awe of the show and fist pumping along to every beat… his enthusiasm will eventually overflow…but more on that later.
Splitting the night up, we are treated to an intermission with a series of classic black and white Popeye cartoons playing on the large screens before Primus saunter back for the second half of the evening.
Kicking things off with another track from the recent ‘Green Naugahyde’ album, ‘Jilly’s On Smack’ gets things jumping again and is closely followed by the insanely catchy ‘John The Fisherman’ which jolts everyone back into life after the mid-show break.
It is around this point that our over enthusiastic reveller (pointed out earlier) has his moment… by rushing the stage only to grab Les’ hat and make a dash for it, presumably to the nearest computer and his eBay account. Unfortunately for him the rather burly security guards, whilst a little slow to stop him in the first place, make up for it by bundling him out of our line of sight… he never does resurface so not quite sure how this story ends.
The large screen backdrop provides a hypnotic series of images throughout the night, the throbbing rhythms and looped visuals create a slightly surreal atmosphere and at times it is easy to be swept up in the whole thing. Images from their own videos ‘Jerry Was A Race Car Driver’ and ‘Seas Of Cheese’ are joined by film clips from the likes of ‘Forbidden Planet’ and at times the union of music and motion is perfect. However, at the start of the show Les confides that as this is the last show of the tour they are going to ‘fuck about’ and he is true to his word. There are times where they border on the pretentious and self-indulgent, although it is clearly not a sentiment shared by all as many of the front row lap up every note.
Primus really are law unto themselves and a true one off. No one else really does what they do and few can wrestle a tune out of a bass like Claypool. Their music is not made for the wider audience; it is a niche market that they have cornered, a true cult band capable of madness and genius, often at the same time.