Bethan Shuff || December 7th
Upon arrival of Keele SU I was greeted by a very excited Mark Askew, the man behind bringing one of the biggest bands in history to Stoke. He tells me that the support band are a 4-piece outfit from Japan called Bo Ningen.
Four, crazily-long-haired musicians entered the stage and played one of the most mind-blowing sets of my life. Insane delay pedals created an eerie presence before erupting into a heavy screeching guitar and bass-driven track. Bo Ningen were no ordinary support band. The weirdly wonderful quartet revelled in hectic, extended interludes before sinking into deep, ethereal vocals that echoed through dark drums and thumping bass lines. The half hour set seemed to be over in a flash, but Bo Ningen had managed to cram a hell of a lot of talent into that 30 minute slot. Vocalist, Taigen Kawabe, edges to the front of the stage, building anticipation before leaping from the stage and clambering onto the barrier with his bass. Thrashing against the barriers with the crowd, the band create an air of exhilaration. They’re like a Jack in the Box; all is calm and no-one knows when they’re going to explode, but when they unpredictably do – it’s mad. Kawabe batters the strings of his bass behind his head before jumping back on stage with the rest of the band to conclude their chaotic set. Bo Ningen are kinda ‘out-there’, and I think that that’s a brilliant place to be.
I was lucky enough to be allowed in the press pit for photographing Primal Scream for the first 3 songs. To be so close and having Bob Gillespie play up to my camera as he performed the iconic track Movin’ On Up was just mad, with the buzz of the crowd instilling an ever-growing excitement in the room.
An mixture of 90’s and newbies from the band included the likes of the electronic Where The Light Gets In, the rockier Accelerator and Shoot Speed before Bob began to talk to the crowd about how they’re going to slow it right down. The bluesy riff of I’m Gonna Cry Myself Blind kicked in with smooth keys floating through the speakers. Cry Myself Blind was followed by Higher Than The Sun, a slower, kind of dark electronic number.
The party didn’t stay slowed down for long though, with Trippin’ On Your Love bouncing through the room accompanied by funky light projections on the walls and ceiling. I often wonder how Simone Butler can dance and play bass in heels that high, but the girl kills it in every track with her foot on the monitors just grooving on her bass; Andrew Innes similarly rocking his guitar, foot on monitors on the other side of the stage. 100% or Nothing, Swastika Eyes and Country Girl all got the crowd dancing; a crowd that had completely packed out Keele SU.
The band slipped offstage for a brief 5 minutes as the crowd chanted and cheered for an encore, singing hooks of their favourite tracks and still dancing along to the backing music.
The band re-entered the stage with swagger, oozing cool and epitomising British rock and roll. As an encore Primal Scream performed Kill All The Hippies, followed by Come Together and to conclude an epic set – Rocks. ‘Get your rocks off, get your rocks off, Honey.’ Everyone knows it. It’s a classic British rock anthem that will go down in history; just like this gig will go down in Stoke’s music history as one of the biggest and the best.
Keele University's Event Coordinator, Mark Askew, was the man behind the evening. He had this to say about the night: 'Saturday was by far the biggest show I had ever been lucky enough to be involved in. My sleep was haunted by things going wrong but it all proved to be just nightmares as the event actually ran as smooth as any show I've ever done. This was mainly down to the team we have at Keele.'
'Meeting the band that shaped my youth was amazing, I was lucky enough to grab a glass of wine with Bobby and chat about music. The most surreal moment of my life was when he took a photo of my Rolling Stones tattoos to show Keith and Mick next time he saw them.'
'I would like to thank everyone who came to what I think was a bit of Stoke music history, to see a full room enjoying Primal Scream in Stoke will stay with me forever.'