Monday, 25 May 2015

Memories of a thousand* gigs #41

(* probably not actually that many, but who’s counting?)

#41: The Primitives
Wales Goes Pop! @ The Gate, Cardiff - 29 March 2013
Support: Josie Long, The Wave Pictures, Evans The Death, Joanna Gruesome, The Tuts, Golden Fable + more
Also present: MrsRobster

One of the bands I loved that I never saw during my 'peak period' (1988-1994) was the Primitives. Not sure why, but probably because they rarely played down my way. So when the reformed Prims were announced as headliners of the inaugural Wales Goes Pop! festival in Cardiff, it was the opportunity I'd been waiting for for 20-plus years.

Wales Goes Pop! is a tiny festival centred around a converted church in the Cathays area of Cardiff. The Gate is a fantastic little venue, with several rows of pews around three sides and a standing area. Capacity is just 300, but that's plenty big enough I reckon. The event is a three-dayer taking place over the Easter weekend, but MrsRobster and I bought tickets just for the first day for a measly £15 each. As she was working (supermarkets don't close on Good Friday!) we chose to go for the evening only, although there was music taking place throughout the day. We just wanted to see the Primitives, truth be told. We did, however, get there early enough to see two other acts.

I have to say, it was a bit weird. The place was absolutely crawling with hipsters for starters, but then when you have a line-up of lots of bands no one's ever heard of, that's not surprising. There were also lots of young kids running around. This isn't a problem - it's great that people take their kids to gigs. But the parents were sitting in the middle of the dancefloor on mats and blankets! There was also a record stall there, which is never a bad thing, and a merch stand.

The first act we caught was the Wave Pictures. I knew of this band and was aware of their cult status, so was actually looking forward to them. The hipsters, naturally, loved them, but I was completely unmoved. Lightweight, whimsical and instantly forgettable. The penultimate act of the day was comedian Josie Long who did a set trying out new material. She was hilarious. She did this piece about shopping in Aldi and coming across "the mystery aisle... you're like 'what do I need? Onions, tomatoes... Ah! Wetsuit!'" MrsRobster and I now speak meeting in "the wetsuit aisle" whenever we pay a visit to Aldi.

So we were waiting for the headliners to appear when something very strange started to happen. People started leaving! Yep, hipsters all around us headed for the exits. God forbid they should stick around to see a band who actually had hit records! Who their parents might actually have heard of! How uncool would that be? They left a small crowd near the front of the stage, few of whom were the right side of 40.

Sadly, the Primitives had seen better days too. Oh, Tracy looked terrific as she always did, but her voice was shot. She struggled with the high notes and hit a few bum ones that she really should have got right. The mix was too loud as well, at times it was difficult to make anything in particular out - it was all a bit noisy and cacophonous. The set itself was OK - a lot of the old classics intermingled with a few new ones from their recently released album, EP and single - but while MrsRobster and I expected to be thrilled by the comeback of one of the best bands of indie's golden generation, we felt rather let down and disappointed.

Maybe the hipsters were right after all. Oh dear god, have I just written that sentence? I hang my head in shame...



  1. I wonder if it was just an off night for the band...I've kept a pretty close eye/ear on their life performances on youtube the past few years and thought that they sounded pretty on point and engaged. Tracey's voice as matured a bit, but it still sounds strong from the evidence online. I still have hopes they make it over to the States at some point and it's reasonable for me to travel to. It would be just too much to ask that they actually play in Tampa or Orlando I suppose.

  2. I remember seeing the lineup for this festival and wanting to fly over. The Primitives, Allo Darlin and the School in one weekend is an absolute dream for me. I can't claim to have heard them live since the reformation, but I give very high marks to everything the Primitives have recorded since then.