It’s not every day that Primus waltzes into town. Even rarer when they decide to play a full Rush Album A Farewell to Kings.
The band became Optimus Primus, transforming into an alternate Rush reality that received the blessing of the band who attended the Toronto gig, just two days prior.
When you think of epic bass players, Les Claypool is the obvious choice simply because of the style of playing he concocts.
At one point in the show, Les confessed that his formative years in music included copious amounts of Rush, another lead singer/bass player that is arguably one of the top bassists ever.
Because of the long lineup outside, I barely caught a few songs from Vancouver’s Black Mountain.
The venue was filled to the brim, and Black Mountain performed their brand of Psychedelic Rock that was at times heavy, like a chill Kyuss, and at times trippy.
Unfortunately, the lyrics were almost indiscernible, even from the vantage point of the first-row center on the balcony, because of the sound.
The vibe was as if this band came out of a time-travelling 70s shaggin’ wagon, and considering the Rush heavy crowd, it worked.
Swing music played on the PA before the main event, and about 1 minute before the set was supposed to start, the customary “Primus Sucks!’ was chanted.
This was followed by heavy clapping and eventually the Olé Olé Olé chant.
Circus music started to play as the lights dimmed and the sound of a train with its lights projected from the stage.
The train that would soon hit us was pure Primus, starting with Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweakers.
The video backdrop added to the atmosphere and the light show throughout elevated the music, while making it almost impossible for the photographers to capture a decent shot.
Primus would perform set 1 with songs spanning Frizzle Fry, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Pork Soda, Antipop, Green Naugahyde, Tales from the Punchbowl and their latest offering Conspiranoid.
After Last Salmon Man, with video of fisherman and fish, Les Claypool mentioned how Montreal was “way more fired up than Toronto!”, which enamoured the crowd.
Les then added: “ I don’t know if you know…or care. We’re going to play a little Rush tonight…and Stomping Tom Connors!”
They started a quick Stomping Tom song as the crowd cheered them on.
The new songs are really starting to grow on me, especially Conspiranola, which I hope gets added to the dictionary, which turned into an extended jam session.
Welcome To This World simply transformed Olympia into an insane frenzy.
My Name Is Mud, complete with visuals that Louis Litt would salivate over, and Jerry Was a Race Car Driver captivated the crowd, who danced, and body surfed.
I was glad I found a spot, front row center on the balcony. Getting too old for this…
Primus ended their set with Over the Electric Grapevine.
After a 15-minute intermission, allowing Les to adorn a flowing outfit, akin to the Rush kimono, I at first thought I was seeing double.
Both guitarist Larry “Ler” Lalonde and bassist Les Claypool were equipped with double-neck guitars, a 70s throwback look.
Let us not forget the double bass drum from Tim “Herb” Alexander who had a setup that our dear Neil Peart would be proud of.
In fact, the drumming during the Rush set was Rush-worthy and made the experience that much more legendary.
After the amazing Xanadu, Les addressed the crowd saying “Primus Sucks and Rush does not!”
The crowd appreciated the nod to Rush, many of whom were wearing Rush apparel.
Before Closer to the Heart, Les acknowledged how insane Geddy’s voice can be, hitting those high notes. He would need help from the audience to hide behind their sing-along roar.
Yet, Les hit those highs and gave us a high in return. Wow.
Les also shared how he always dreamed of “a black and white Rickie”, referring to the Rickenbacker that he recently acquired for this tour.
When Primus ended the Rush set, the crowd went nuts and made it clear they wanted more.
Too Many Puppies whipped the crowd into an insane state, before transitioning to Sgt. Baker and finally boomeranging back to Puppies.
The last two songs were Follow the Fool and Harold of the Rocks.
Primus really gave the audience a best of, from their discography, while paying respect to one of Canada’s Rock legends.
Combined with a light show that amplified the music, it was a night that would not soon be forgotten.
A comment off my YouTube Channel says it all: “C’étais malade raide!!!!!!”
What a rush.
Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers
Last Salmon Man
Welcome to This World
My Name is Mud
Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
Over the Electric Grapevine
Rush Set: A Farewell to Kings
A Farewell to Kings
Closer to the Heart
Too Many Puppies
Follow the Fool
Harold of the Rocks
Photos: Kieron Yates
Writer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their day jobs with out-of-the-box advice from Ted Talk Speakers, Best Selling Authors and other interesting Entrepreneurs and Creatives. He created the Rock Star Today Music Business Jam Session for musicians. Randal is a collector of signed vinyl, cassettes and CDs.Share this :