39 songs in 2 hours! Hard to believe but that was what Pixies played last week when I saw them live at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. It was a gig where, at times, I felt totally pummelled by their ferocious energy. This from a band largely in their fifties now (it’s been 29 years since I last saw them), I can’t imagine many younger bands playing with such intensity and so well. For Pixies fans from back in their late Eighties/Nineties heyday all their most popular songs were played, much to the rather boisterous crowds delight, as well as pretty much everything off their brilliant new album, ‘Beneath The Eyrie’.
Well, I like the new album anyway. Reviews have been mixed, some lamenting their supposed lost brilliance on this and the other two albums, ‘Head Carrier’ and ‘Indy Cindy’ they have made since their 2004 reunion, but others declaring it the great record that I think it is too, and up there with the best of those brilliant first four records. ‘Beneath The Eyrie’ is a lean, brilliantly crafted record, with no fillers at all and cracks along at a great pace. But I’ve really enjoyed ‘Head Carrier’ and ‘Indy Cindy’ too, both records having just a great attitude behind the crunching guitars, drums and rumbling and rolling basslines that propel everything along. However, last week when seeing them live I was constantly reminded when a song like ‘Debaser’ or ‘Where Is My Mind’ or ‘Cactus’ kicked in, how original and weird those early songs were with Black Francis’s dark, surreal lyrics and those killer riffs which seemed to kick you repeatedly in the stomach.
It took some stamina getting through that set last week, for band and audience alike, but the show ended on a real high with an encore of ‘Hey’, my favourite Pixies song, and a fantastically fun ‘Vamos’, with Joey Santiago holding his guitar over the audience as it howled in immense waves of feedback and distortion. Rock ‘n’ roll…
The new album is also beautifully packaged as ever by Vaughn Oliver and 23 Envelope.