I’ll go ahead and start off this review as I normally would, stating my familiarity with the band I’m about to review: I am a HUGE PRIMUS FAN. Saw them for my first time at the Berkeley Square playing with Skankin’ Pickle sometime around ’87 or ’88, with countless other shows between Primus and Les Claypool’s wonderful side projects Sausage, Frog Brigade and Holy Mackerel. I truly believe artists and such original groundbreaking bands, as Primus, are gifted to us by whatever higher (or lower) power you choose faith in! “Suck on This” all the way though “Brown Album” were legendary albums with “Tales from the Punchbowl” being one of the most underrated albums of their wonderfully continuing career.
With that said, it was a beautiful October 29th evening at The Greek Theater located in Berkeley, California. All attendees were given free glow necklaces at the gate entrances, which made for a fantastic crowd visual as the lights went down. The evening was dubbed the “ODDITY FAIRE TOUR” which was opened by the acclaimed Vau de Vire Society at 7pm. This amazing theatrical opener created a dark and wicked circus vibe on stage with sinister visuals and an array of fire dancers, Corde Lisse with cloth, elaborate costumes and choreography. BEAUTIFUL.
In direct support of Primus was the Omar Rodríguez-López Project. Omar, of At the Drive In and Mars Volta fame, brought his 3-piece jam band along, which did not stray far from his Mars Volta roots, minus any vocal contribution to the set.
Primus took the stage at 9pm with original members Les Claypool on bass, Larry LaLonde on guitar and Tim “Herb” Alexander on Drums. As a long time fan, I was very excited to see all 3 original members back on stage once again. Larry walked out first and jumped on his wah wah pedal with the infectious introduction to “Those Damn Blue Collar Tweekers”. Being one of my favorite Primus songs of all time, my blood was rushing on what would be in store for the rest of their mysterious set list…. The performance continued with hits such as “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” and “My Name is Mud”. By this time I actually started loosing interest with the lack of stage performance and interaction with the crowd. The set sort of drug on through a mix of Primus standards, obscure songs, a few songs from the new album and some lengthy jamming.
Set list was as follows:
Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers
Duchess and the Proverbial Mind Spread
Jerry Was A Race Car Driver
My Name Is Mud
Over the Electric Grapevine
Prelude to a Crawl
Last Salmon Man
Eternal Consumption Engine
Tragedy’s a’ Comin’
Eyes of the Squirrel
Jilly’s on Smack
Lee Van Cleef
Tommy the Cat
Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver
The band did seem very typical, of most bands these days touring with large stage production well into their successful careers, by appearing to depend on production instead of actually giving an energetic performance and acknowledging their longtime dedicated audience. The stage was dressed with their infamous moon men and a large digital screen, but seemed shallow of any emotion that I knew of previous Primus shows. I know what you’re all saying, “Well, they’re kind of getting up there in age”. NO NO NO, age is never an excuse in my book, there are plenty of legendary artists that shatter that theory over and over again.
The set kind of just jammed on… and I found myself, a long time fan, actually loosing interest in the entire show in general. I believed that this is not the Primus I remember and this is certainly not the Mr. Les Claypool I’ve loved all these years. After a lengthy 2hr “performance”, Les managed to get on the mic and explain that this would be their last song of the evening, due to honoring a curfew by the venue, and crescendoed the night’s show with “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”.
Final word: Primus sounded phenomenal, never missing a beat and sonically most fulfilling coming from a 3-piece unit, and the largest stage production I’ve ever seen them tour with. Their presence on stage and lack of interacting with their fans made it a tad boring to this kid that remembers Primus as an inspiring fury of energy and originality coming from each wonderful “character” that makes this legendary band what it is. I look forward to giving the new album a spin as I’ve heard it’s a tip of the hat between “Frizzle Fry” and “Brown Album”
Categories: Concert Reviews