The Primitives at The International, Manchester, March 1988

Ah, my babies. Paul Court looks so gorgeous onstage in his Beatles wig tonight that I decide I must have him scrubbed and sent to my tent at once. But when I go on a reconnaissance to the toilets the graffiti is queuing up for a wee, and it says “I walk and shake my head, I’m cool till I’m dead, nothing more can be said.”

So I get distracted, as one would. A lot of people are distracted in Manchester tonight and most of them are here. Prim Fever is pouring from the chandeliers. The group of the year in the year of the kitten are number five in the hit parade and I am laughing a lot. The crowd are saying “Ouch” for me. The start is delayed by an hour.

The first half of the set all you can see is a line of giant bouncers and all you can hear is brave Tracy chiming “Can you move back a bit please people are getting squashed” in between every line.

Under preposterous conditions (I think Bellia is still down there somewhere; perhaps I should notify his family and a trowel), The Primitives rush and tingle through their perfect, strawberry, Arson-In-Toyland hits. It’s like Noddy’s little car winning Death Race 2000. I pine for “Shadow”, but “Dream Walk Baby” fires me up like a chimp in a space rocket saying “Hold on, I’ve got an advert to do.”

This week’s ‘sort of warm-up tour’ is really, however, about those moments in pop history I always promised you, nights to remember, deceptively dangerous beauty, the purity of conception and the chaos of execution. Anyone with a glimmer of intelligence and zest who doesn’t appreciate that The Primitives are the luckiest devine accident to prop pop’s weary eyelids open with ivory toothpicks in, 153 years, has leased that glimmer out to big business (or small potatoes with weevils in.)

By existing like a steamy iceberg, looking like honey and sounding like the first black sheep of spring, they sort the wheat from the chaff, the sweet from the naff, the replete from the daft, and some kind of justice is done. Oh, and the next single will be “Out Of Reach”.

Actually tonight there’s such mayhem that they are a bit early Mary Chain (RIP), which is odd because they never had been before, and won’t be again. Eva Peron gatecrashing Lord Snowdon’s aviary, yes, but . . .

After the anthelminthic, eponymous-to-the-drama-of-life “Everything Shining Bright”, there’s this goddish encore of “Ticket To Ride”, “Stop Killing Me”, and “I Wanna Be Your Dog”, which is, to put it plainly, apocalypse, puckered lips, total eclipse, and here are the pips.

At which point they quit while I still have a head, babbling now and speechless, pink as the day I was born. Pink as yesterday and ripe for tomorrow. Tracy’s voice is angels with quick, knowing sorrying glances and the devils with the tunes take you dancing awkward dump steps a stone’s throw from the rapture of heartbreak. Lovely lovely lovely.

(Chris Roberts, Melody Maker, 26/03/88)

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