The Primitives – Live Review

MOHO LIVE is one of Manchester’s newer underground venues with uber cool design, right in the heart of the Northern Quarter. It’s a decent size and is typical of many former mill basements, in that you’ll have to put up with obscured views from the iron pillars holding the rest of the building above us, up. Still no matter, we’re not here to talk aesthetics, we are here to see Morrissey’s favourite band, The Primitives.

It’s been 18 years since The Primitives last played a note together, and they were THE indiecool band of 1988. We wonder if they’ve got fat or comb-over hair and at which point in the set will we hear ‘Crash’?

If you cast your mind back to those heady carefree days of the indiealternativepoprockwhatever charts before Twitter, MySpace and the rest, there was a minor subgenre that the Melody Maker called ‘Blonde’ which comprised The Primitives, The Darling Buds (yeah, remember them? No?) Voice Of The Beehive and er, Transvision Vamp. Not that they had much in common except, the female leads all had blonde hair – like Duh, really? Incisive journalism there, Melody Maker.

Anyhoo, the Primitives were way cooler than The Darling Buds, singer TracyTracy (“that’s my name don’t wear it out”, she said later) was all indiepop cool, smart and sophisticated, unlike Sun Readers favourite, Wendy James.

Support tonight is from Charlie And The Ghost and Lucky Soul, the latter are already on when we get there (sorry, Charlie) and do a fine line in folksy pop.

The Primitives intro tape fades and they’re ON, kicking off with ‘I’ll Stick With You’, soon followed by ‘Thru The Flowers’ and ‘Way Behind Me’, all from the excellent ‘Lovely’ LP, which gave the band 5 hit singles in 1988. The intervening years have been kind to The Primitives, guitarist Paul still has great hair and Tracy hasn’t aged at all. It’s the line-up that released ‘Lovely’, sadly without bassist Steve, who shuffled off his mortal coil at the beginning of last year.

The songs sound surprisingly fresh, with a timeless quality borne of classic pop influences, The Byrds, The Velvets and the faster guitars of punk. Their reappearance is timely too with a resurgence in interest in the C86 bands and 60’s girl pop bands, by groups like the Vivian Girls.

‘Stop Killing Me’ and ‘Sick Of It’ are next and I could almost imagine myself in the UFO Club, frugging away, accompanied by a Barney Bubbles psychedelic light show. The instantly recognisable jingle jangle, BOMP! intro signals the start of ‘Crash’ and everyone is bobbing along.

“You knew that one, didn’t you?” Tracy playfully chastises, and they’re gone. They return and Paul informs the audience that they’ve all had a lie down before launching into a fast burst of ‘Nothing Left To Say’ and ‘Really Stupid’. It may have been 18 years, but The Primitives sound like they have never been away.

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