DESPITE his image one of the great freewheeling rock and roll stars of our time, Bobby Gillespie insists he is a quiet man.

The swaggering front man of Primal Scream, who famously urged us to “get deep down” on 1990 anthem Loaded and to get our Rocks Off, four years later in a strutting display worthy of The Rolling Stones, insists he has calmed down.

“I have had a lot of difficult years but everything has calmed down,” he told me in his lilting Glaswegian accent the last time we spoke.

“You get to a certain age where the endless partying stops being such a good idea,” he goes on. “It’s a young man’s game; I’d be dead otherwise. I can’t do that now.”

Three years after that legendary headline set at Oxford’s much-missed Common People festival, Bobby and the band are back in town, pitching up at the O2 Academy on Tuesday. The show comes as they release their retrospective ‘Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll – The Singles’ – a timely reminder of one of British music’s most essential bodies of work. And the hit heavy set is packed with classics – Movin’ On Up, Loaded, Rocks and Kill All Hippies to name just a few.

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“Right from our 1985 debut All Fall Down onward we’ve approached singles as an aesthetic choice, a statement of where we are as a band,” says Bobby. “We grew up with Suffragette City and Metal Guru flying out of the radio. The four Sex Pistols singles were great. Public Image by PiL sounded like nothing else. Prince and Madonna made amazing hits. That has been our approach. I’ve always loved Top 40 pop radio, I love greatest hits albums like The Who’s Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy. I remember Alan McGee saying of Higher Than The Sun: it won’t be a hit, but it will be a statement. Great singles can get out into the world and show people an alternative way of thinking. They make you feel less alone.”

The show finds the former Jesus and Mary Chain drummer – who started off in the industry as a roadie for Clare Grogan’s 80s new wave band Altered Images – at the top of his game

“We’re always writing, working and recording,” he says. “And at the back of our minds, we’re always thinking about that blockbuster hit which will change people’s lives. What else can you hope for?”

Primal Scream come to the O2 Academy Oxford on Tuesday. Go to