Written by Samuel Barker
Feb 27, 2004 at 08:00 PM
Les ClaypoolTo write this review as a professional would feel pretty lame to me, so with this in mind, I will write this review as the fan of Primus that I am. Having first seen the band nearly a decade ago, this is the band that single-handedly made me drag my mom to the nearest music shop to buy me my first instrument, a bass guitar.Primus was the spark that allowed my imagination to run wild and view my instrument as something more than what most people thought it was, Les Claypool’s example made me shoot higher. Though I’m still nowhere near his level, I still plug away on bass when my guitar playing seems to plateau.

With all this said, it was/is the highlight of my journalistic career thus far to be able to photograph and review a show by this band. While I incriminate myself with the praise from my introduction as a biased fan, I still have my standards of what I expect from a rock concert; and if Primus didn’t deliver, my pen would still bestow its wrath upon them.

The Verizon filled slowly on this night as many people seemingly neglected to pay attention to the “An Evening With…” caption on their ticket. As the lights dimmed for the first of two sets, a quick glimpse back caught only half capacity in the building despite the show selling out.

However, the stragglers meant less than nothing as Claypool, with his bass, strolled onto the stage to chants of “Primus sucks!!.” Clad in the clothing of an English gentleman, Claypool began tapping his bass to bring forth a bit of an impromptu weirdness quickly accompanied by drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander and guitarist Larry LaLonde.

As the music swayed around in circle, there was a small lull, the calm before the storm, if you will, and then Harold of the Rocks began. This explosion of energy set the audience into a dance of frenzied delight. The once held notion that this night would never happen made it even more powerful.

Never being a band to leave well enough alone, Harold stretched on for near fifteen minutes due to improvisational jam sessions throughout the song. This was the theme of the night as Claypool slapped and plucked his bass, Alexander pounded away on the drums and LaLonde’s guitar buzz-sawed through the grooves, reinventing old favorites.

As the short opening set wrapped up with The Toys Go Winding Down, the theater was packed to the brim with fans once again chanting “Primus sucks!!!” as the band retreated for a quick break, leaving the audience with a film about the pitfall of marijuana usage from the 60’s. The parody of the perversely off-base public service announcement added nicely to the mood of jubilation that surrounded the show.

Herb AlexanderAfter the break, it was time for the prize…Sailing The Seas of Cheese from beginning to end right there in front of our eyes.

As the lights slowly came up on the stage, Claypool grabbed hold of his electric standup bass and swayed towards the microphone to begin the journey with an extended version of Seas of Cheese.

The set rolled along with chants of “Here they come!” during Here Come the Bastards, chills during a wonderfully spooky rendition of American Life and an insanely long drum solo by Alexander following Jerry Was a Racecar Driver.

These old favorites seemed fresh and exciting as Primus did their best to extend them just right and add new points of emphasis. It’s rare a band has the vision to write songs like these, let alone rework them to add freshness rarely found in current songs, let alone songs nearly a decade or more old.

Fortunately, Primus seems like they are back for a while, not just a one off tour. Hopefully there will be many more years of this band crossing the country reworking old favorites and playing new, soon-to-be favorites. If you missed the show, but wish you had been there, visit http://www.primuslive.com to pick up a copy of the show.