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Pixies, Troxy, London, June 3rd 2010

June 15, 2010

It had been along time since I saw the Pixies – Brixton Academy in 1991 and the alcohol-free (thanks to a licensing cock-up) Crystal Palace Bowl show that same summer. They split up acrimoniously a couple of years later and reformed in 2004, though I hadn’t managed to get tickets to see them since then. So I was pleased to get a ‘fan club only’ email from them inviting me to buy tickets to an ‘intimate’ show at London’s Troxy and suggest songs for the setlist, which I thought was fun. I diligently sent in my choices, most of which they played, which was nice.

The Pixies only released a measly five records, of which my favourites are undoubtedly the second and third, Surfer Rosa and Doolittle. I was interested to hear how many songs from each album were going to be requested. In case you’re interested too, here’s the breakdown – you might need to know that on Cambridge University’s Austism-Spectrum Quotient Test, I scored enough points to get me heavily medicated in some countries…
Come On Pilgrim – 4 songs
Surfer Rosa – 7 songs
Doolittle – 7 songs
Bossanova – 6 songs
Trompe Le Monde – 5 songs
That’s pretty much how I’d wanted it broken down, perhaps with even more songs from Surfer Rosa and Doolittle, but who’s complaining?

The band came on shortly after Cinnamon Girl came over on the PA, which put me in a good mood, and crashed straight into instrumental opener Cecilia Ann followed by Rock Music, both from Bossanova, an album I like but don’t love because of its too lush production. After Bone Machine from Surfer Rosa, we were treated to a wonderful triple from DoolittleMonkey Gone To Heaven, Gouge Away and Hey. This was really good stuff and the band seemed to be enjoying it too. The sound was fine – at the Brixton Academy all those years ago it was dreadful as I recall – and they played very tightly, which is not surprising after all these years, as there’s not exactly a large back catalogue to choose from.

Next up was a triple from BossanovaVelouria, Dig For Fire and Allison – which show the strengths and weaknesses of that album, namely great riffs, fun lyrics, but not spiky enough for my ears. The point about Doolittle is that there’s an unfocused sense of menace about the songs in a punky way, which lifted the Pixies as a band above most of their contemporaries and is the reason why they were so loved by Kurt Cobain, amongst others.

Francis was playing and singing his heart out and, dare I say it, seems to have lost some weight, while Kim Deal, bless her, appeared to be delighted just to be there. She grinned away as she kept on and on between songs about how cool it was that we’d emailed in our requests, about how email is great and that we should carry on emailing each other. Very sweet.

We were at one of the front table seats on the balcony, which made it feel rather like some sort of 50s supper club, but down below, despite the audience’s advancing years, there was some serious moshing going on. The place was packed and began to get uncomfortably hot too. 2,000 humans create quite a lot of heat – I suppose if I was seriously A-Spectrum I’d tell you precisely how many kilojoules that is, but I won’t, so there’s hope for me yet. I’d really enjoyed the evening as a mosh down Memory Lane and the band played well and with lots of energy. I’m not sure I’d really want to see them again, though. Unless they produce a load of new and interesting songs, the shows are going to carry on being greatest hits shows, which is great once or twice, but ultimately unsatisfying.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 23, 2010 11:14 pm

    Great to get a review of them, I was wondering how it went as I was miffed to have missed the tickets for this gig. I expect your right tho, I last saw them a long time ago at Kilburn… memories!

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