April 29, 2010
In rock music it should be made abundantly clear that there is nothing sweeter than a reunion of your favourite band. Write up a list of your top five and tell me that you wouldn’t be front and centre when opportunity knocks. It’s not for us to ponder the significance behind the decision, but to be thankful they still believe in the music they made. It’s even more meaningful when there’s no great chequebook being waved under somebody’s nose, the prerogative to reform coming down to a simple question of “how about it?”. That question has been a long time coming for Coventry’s second greatest band*, The Primitives. How long coming? Oh, only about eighteen years.
What a wonderful world we live in where The Primitives are able to tread the boards once more. A delightful, decorous blend of ’60s op-shop pop fronted by the delectable Tracy Tracy. One certified chart smash with “Crash” and some near misses along the way, The Primitives were one of those bands that were championed and loved (the old chestnut about Morrissey being a big fan is worth repeating) but never fully met with pop’s good graces. Cast your mind back to the halcyon days of The Darling Buds, Transvision Vamp and The Parachute Men, the “blonde revolution” that the NME had tried to invent, full of miniature Marilyn Monroes sandwiched between boys with leather jackets and guitars.
What was meant to be a brief run of dates quickly outgrew expectation once word spread, bringing out nostalgia freaks and fans who’ve never had the chance to seem them live. Looking like the years have treated her incredibly kindly, Tracy Tracy sparkled with a sequined shine as she retraced her old steps and hit those familiar notes, from the fizzy rush of “Everything’s Shining Bright” and The Ronettes by way of The Ramones breakneck buzz of “I’ll Stick With You”. By the time they’d worked up to the winsome glory of their debut single “Thru The Flowers”, they had succeeded in reclaiming the lost years with grace. And has anybody, ever, written a more perfect pop song than “Way Behind Me”? It’s like listening to a 3 minute master-class in classic ’60s songwriting.
The league of bald-headed gentlemen reliving their glory days gave a concerted attempt at moshing (more vigorous jostling to be fair) to the punk-pop double shot of “Stop Killing Me” and “Really Stupid”, eliciting amused smiles from the stage. “This one’s a cover” offered the equally fresh-faced Paul Court, before the familiar chime of “Crash” bounced around the room. A cover of Lee Hazelwood’s “Need All The Help I Can Get”, taken from a recently recorded EP of obscure ’60s songs showed the band aren’t likely to be sick of it all just yet. An encore yielded their last great single, “You Are The Way”, and then they pulled down the curtain with the sweet and sour goodbye of “Nothing Left”, Tracy Tracy exiting the stage clutching a bouquet of roses. I couldn’t wait another eighteen years to do this again. I couldn’t even wait another eighteen days.
* If you have to ask, I’m not going to tell you.