LIVE: Primus @ Palace Theatre, 05/18/2022

Primus and Rush have many similarities.  Virtuoso musicianship, rabid fan bases, intricate musical arrangements, and road warrior touring schedules are just a few of these similarities.  Both bands can be loosely described as “progressive rock” although pinning either band down to a single genre is an exercise in futility.   Les Claypool of Primus has spoken of his childhood admiration for Rush and Geddy Lee in particular.  When the two bands toured together on Rush’s 1991’s “Roll the Bones Tour”, Geddy Lee turned from an idol into a friend for Claypool.  This lifelong admiration has culminated in a special kind of tour for Primus.  Since 2021, Primus has been performing Rush’s 1977 masterpiece A Farewell to Kings in its entirety.   

Photo by Nick Dicocco

The tour, dubbed “A Tribute to Kings” arrived in Albany on Wednesday night at the Palace Theater.  Opening the night with “American Life” from the 1991 album Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Claypool and company hit the stage running.  “Too Many Puppies” off of 1990’s Frizzle Fry followed, with “Sgt. Baker” from Sailing the Seas of Cheese right after.  Both songs deal with war and military life. Both songs seemed especially relevant to current events.  They ran through ten songs, dipping all the way back to 1989’s Suck on This album and pulling from their most recent release, 2022’s Conspiranoid.  They closed the first set with fan-favorite “My Name is Mud” from 1993’s Pork Soda

After a stellar set of Primus originals, the band returned and played A Farewell To Kings from start to finish.  From the title track to album closer “Cygnus X-1” Claypool and company put their own spin on the classic Rush songs without straying too far from the original arrangements.  Guitarist Larry LaLonde was impeccable covering the guitar lines originally laid down by Alex Lifeson.  What impressed me most was drummer Tim Alexander.  It is no secret that Rush’s drummer, the late Neil Peart is widely considered one of the best drummers to ever play.  Alexander’s playing and timing were spot on and a fitting tribute to Peart.  It goes without saying that Claypool is world-class on bass.  He did an admirable job with the vocal parts, although some of Geddy Lee’s melodies seemed just a bit too high for the Primus singer.  On some of the higher notes on songs like “Closer to the Heart”, he seemed to lay back a bit.  The audience certainly helped by singing along.   

Photo by Nick Dicocco

A three-song encore followed the Rush set.  Two songs from Frizzle Fry, “Groundhogs Day” and “Harold of the Rocks” were followed by “Follow the Fool” from Conspiranoid.  Die-hard fans were in heaven, while I heard some casual fans griping about not knowing many songs in the setlist.  Primus never struck me as a band that “just play the hits” anyway.   

The production was fitting for a tour of this magnitude.  A large video wall projected visuals for each song played.  There was an abundance of fog and colorful lighting.  My only gripe was that all of the lighting was behind the band, making it nearly impossible to see the band members, except in silhouette.  

Photo by Nick Dicocco

Noise-rock dup Battles opened the show with a forty-five-minute performance. Maybe I am getting old and cranky but I just didn’t get it or enjoy it at all.  If you read my articles you often hear me say that you should get to venues early to see the opening acts.  This is one that I wished I skipped.  I guess if there was one positive thing it was that their set didn’t last any longer. 

Photo Gallery by Nick Dicocco

1 Comment
  1. Justafan says

    We on the other hand loved the 2 piece band battles, and were 48,and 46…maybe you don’t get or understand the Primus true die hard fan base …just listen to Primus last album and I bet you hear battles influenced songs…

Comments are closed.