As the lights dim, an excited punter screams out in the most ocker vernacular, “Smash it Deano” to chuckles and laughter in the crowd. The Dean Ween Group are visibly amused too, and kick off their set with “This Heart of Palm”, featuring copious wah wah guitar effects and a laid back groove. Dean Ween aka Mickey Mechiondo dedicates the next song and Ween cover “My Own Bare Hands” to his woman, confessing “I jerk off a lot.” The volume is loud and reverberates through the theatre. A couple of songs in, Dean Ween introduces a song about finger fucking, “it’s called Fingerbangin’,” and proceeds to sniff his finger from base to tip. Sometimes innuendo is enough.
The audience cheers and screams as Primus bassist Les Claypool joins the band to play bass on two Ween covers, “The Rift” and closer “The Mollusc.”
After a short intermission, the lights dim and vaudeville inspired music blares out of the speakers, punctuated by trumpet solos. A sign of the mad, musical mayhem that awaits….Tim ‘Herb’ Alexander takes his spot behind his impressive drum kit as Larry ‘Ler’ Londe slings his guitar strap over his shoulder, followed by Les Claypool on bass and lead vocals and the punters go wild.
Five large LED screens light up the stage and the guitar feedback which sounds like a screeching siren signals the start of “Those Damned Blue Collar Tweekers.” After a killer start Claypool addresses the crowd :”This is the final night of our Australian tour and I didn’t write the set list with people sitting down in mind.” Claypool gives the audience a choice to stay seated, but get a mellow show. The crowd don’t take much convincing and practically everyone in the stalls stays standing for the entirety of Primus’ performance.
The humorous “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver ” follows with the LED screens showing the bands’ video clip, where they don plastic cowboy outfits replete with country twang and punters sing along to the He He He He refrain. Claypool showcases his trademark, extraordinary bass slapping and jazz strumming moves, and whilst Claypool is renowned for his unique bass playing, LaLonde’s explosive riffs and sheer mastery of his guitar and Alexander’s gargantuan drumming is equally as impressive.
“Moron TV’ is a rare inclusion in the set, and the full rock assault of “Too Many Puppies” about how many soldiers are too young to go to war, packs a punch. Later, Claypool dons a pig mask and an upright bass and the band launch into “Jilly’s on Smack” followed by “Mr Krinkle, preceded by a “Kashmir”interlude as the “Mr Krinkle” video plays in the background.
“John the Fisherman” draws screams of appreciation from the crowd, and it’s a beautiful thing to hear burly, hirsute men sing “I want to be a fisherman” along with Claypool. As the meanest and weirdest bass line blares out of the speaker, the wondrous “Jerry was a Race Car Driver” sees the throng go apeshit. It’s one of many highlights throughout the show. “My Name is Mud” follows with a “Jerry was a Race Car Driver” reprise, and the band leave the stage at the song’s conclusion.
The audience starts chanting “Primus Sucks” as an affectionate plea for them to return. After a short hiatus Primus are joined by Dean Ween on guitar for the encore “Southbound Pachyderm” where we are treated to visuals of white, baby elephant silhouettes doing somersaults. Hopes for them to play “Tommy the Cat” are dashed when they leave the stage, but even without it, Primus put on one of the best shows of the year. Kudos to the friend who introduced me to the band’s music in 1993, when he said he’d only go to the 1994 Big Day Out if Primus were playing !