In retrospect it’s a wonder I hadn’t seen Primus before yesterday. Absurdist prog-metal virtuosos who cover Mule Variations-era Tom Waits? Sign me up! I don’t even know what I was expecting; however, it’d been far too long since I’d seen a Dirty Metal Show (© J-What, 2006), and that, coupled with the promise of seeing Les Claypool play bass, had me at MacEwan Hall the night before one of my busiest days of the year. The venue’s steel beams and concrete floor were at odds with Primus’ Theatre of the Absurd stage setup–astronauts!–but the band filled the space well, aided partly by a seething mosh pit and a young lady dressed in a head-to-foot beaver costume. Sadly for her, “Winona’s Big Brown Beaver” didn’t make the setlist.
- Pudding Time
- Groundhog’s Day
- Those Damned Blue Collar Tweekers
- Over the Falls
- Big in Japan [Tom Waits] (WEIRD FACT I DIDN’T KNOW UNTIL A FEW SECONDS AGO: Claypool has guest starred on four Tom Waits studio albums…and actually played bass on the studio version of “Big in Japan”)
- Sathington Willoughby
- Spaghetti Western
- Whamola [The Les Claypool Frog Brigade]
- Jerry Was A Race Car Driver
- Tommy the Cat
- Golden Boy
- Here Come the Bastards
This was a great, great show. Again, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but whatever expectations I had coming in were blown away by the second song. Highlight? That’s easy: Claypool, the one bassist I’ve seen live who gives John Entwistle a run for his money, coming on stage dressed as a gorilla (or something) and doing a mind-bending whamola jam with drummer Jay Lane. I could’ve spent the entire night just watching the two of them go at it. Primus was a much different live experience than Arcade Fire–obviously–yet equally compelling in its own right. What a lucky few days I’ve had.