–By Sean Derrick
Prog rock masters Primus pride themselves on a theatrical live show that entices the senses of sight and sound equally at each and every one of their live shows. On Sunday at the Peabody Opera House in Saint Louis the trio didn’t let a few technical glitches ruin their performance.
In fact, vocalist/bassist Les Claypool used the experience to heap praise on guitarist Larry “Ler” LaLonde, who had to play an extended intro into “Welcome to This World” as Claypool was offstage getting his rigging repaired. “Ler is a trooper” Claypool exclaimed of his bandmate after the song when he mentioned the issues he was having. The crowd was extremely forgiving as it was one of the only items that kept the night from being flawless.
Seasoned Primus fans already know that the band almost never uses the same setlist twice as they like to make each show unique. So, while the setlist was scarce on their more well-known songs the crowd got a taste of deep-cut Primus.
From the opening notes of “To Defy the Laws of Tradition” (the first track from the band’s debut album, 1990’s Frizzle Fry) fans had to know it was going to be a unique night. Nearly the entire first set was comprised of deep tracks and songs only longtime fans would probably know. The only “hits”, per se, came from “Candy Man” and “My Name is Mud” (Which Claypool panned as a love song).
The rest of the first set gave long time fans an opportunity to experience a wide range of songs not widely played, like “Nature Boy” and “Golden Boy”, from Pork Sandwhich and The Brown Album, respectively.
Primus was in town on their “Ambushing the Storm Tour” to support their first album of new music in six years in The Desaturating Seven. It marks the first new album with the most popular lineup of Claypool, LaLonde and drummer Tim Alexander since 1995’s Tales From the Punchbowl.
The album is based on a 1970’s children’s book called The Rainbow Goblins. Claypool was always a fan of the book as he read it to his kids when they were young. After the success of Primus and the Chocolate Factory (a reworking of the soundtrack to the 1971 cult classic movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”) Claypool decided to put the book to music. The result is a deep, dark psychedelic look into the world of seven color goblins that perfectly conveys the mystical dynamics of the color goblins.
Visually, the entire 2nd act was the band playing in deep shadows while brightly colorful imagery displayed on the screens behind them, backlighting the stage and nearly blinding the crowd with bright LED lights of the seven colors described in the songs.
Musically, the show was amazing. Claypool, a bassist extraordinaire, showed off his incredible skill throughout the show, and remains one of the top bassists in the world, creating rich and eccentric notes that mesmerized the crowd. LaLonde and Alexander were equally spell binding on guitar and drums, respectfully, coming together for an evening of audio and visual sensory delight.
The crowd hung onto each note throughout both sets and lovingly chanted “Primus sucks!” prior to the encore, which hit a crescendo with fantastic choices of “Fisticuffs”, “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”, and “Southbound Pachyderm”. A couple special treats were intermingled into a couple of those songs. During “Fisticuffs” the band played a verse from The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”, and for a Beatles fan that was special. When the band played an excerpt of Rush’s “La Villa Strangiato”…well that was truly heaven. Especially since the first time I saw Primus was opening for Rush in 1994 at the old Arena. Twenty three years later and Primus never gets old and never ceases to amaze.
Check out the photo gallery after the setlist.
To Defy the Laws of Tradition
Candy Man (Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newly cover)
Welcome to this World
My Name is Mud
Fisticuffs (With excerpt of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”.)
Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver
Southbound Pachyderm (With excerpt of Rush’s “La Villa Strangiato”.)