While not considered quite the watershed moment ‘Sgt. Pepper
…’ - ‘Never Mind the Bollocks
…’or indeed ironically ‘Nevermind
’ provided, ‘Doolittle
’ nevertheless paved the way for the epoch of the alternative-rock scene of the early 90’s, supplanting all in it’s wake, giving the disaffected MTV generation a fitting soundtrack.
’ producer Gil Norton might have smoothed over some of the abrasive and lo-fi edges of their predecessor, but this makes it no less powerful an album, in fact perhaps more so, due to their increased accessibility; they yielded a more subversive power. Compressing themes such as incest, mental instability, self harm, surrealism, violent Biblical imagery, libido and irrational fears of “losing my penis to a whore with diseases”, into the catchiest three minute pop songs you’d never heard. With ingenious song writing imbued in these transgressive and obscure lyrics, brought to life through the Pixies
inimitable sound, tethering styles such as surf rock, latino and punk, all rapped up with a sheen of pop sensibility and unbridled raw power and energy, how could it not trailblaze a path for the latent underground to grab the chalice.
The monumental experience of my first Pixies
gig back in 05, could have been tarnished by the makeshift gig venue (Meadowbank stadium & its ramshackle PA) however the performance and the atmosphere transcended the venue, providing the pinnacle of my Pixies
pilgrimage; so the utilitarian aircraft-hanger that purports itself as a venue, holds no particular trepidation, nor could it curb the building enthusiasm of the crowd, who like the band themselves cannot be pigeon-holed; defying recognisable demographics and lazy labels.
It’s a tough call to precede such a revered act, but the moody Glasgow stalwarts Sons and Daughters
can be a live force to be reckoned with, as their dark indie-folk tinged gothic-rockabilly sits with an almost menacingly serious stage presence. It’s just a shame that there’s a pervading and assumed custom of showing support bands the meagerest of response (a sort if anti-etiquette if you will). Any forms of exuberance shown by members of the crowd are viewed with disdain, chagrin or at the very lest baffled curiosity. Untroubled by the lack of energy, Adele and co. cycled through some their best songs from their trilogy of albums, with a new song taking on the sensitive subject of the Bible John murders, exposing elements of the seedy underbelly and darker heritage of Glasgow’s past (albeit probably better Christened a couple of miles across the Clyde at the Barras-considering the crimes heinous association.)
Quiet - The Pixies
influential and signature quite loud, quite loud dynamics were mirrored by the outline of the show and reaction from the crowd. With the band themselves slinking on-stage shrouded in shadows, backs to their adoring audience, taking in the screening of the fabled short film ‘Un Chien Andalou’ (by Luis Buñuel & Salvador Dali) which ‘Debaser
’ heavily reverences- complete with slicing up eyeballs. This left some sections of the audience, subdued, bemused and impatience, and there was still an air of ill-ease from the self same sections as the Pixies
decided to kick things off with four b-sides - as good as they prove to be, Kim acknowledged that b-sides have become almost an anachronism.
Loud - At the very moment the first note of the ‘Debaser
’ riff rings out, the crowd lap it up and are instantly onside, synchronised as one. The fact that a song utilizing such an obscure art-school reference has become an indie anthem staple, as thousand of fans sing back every line “Slicing up Eyeballs, I want you to know”; makes me think that even Dali himself would testify to this being a surreal turn of events. The synchronised video backdrop, with its related sepia toned Doolittle imagery and artwork compliment the equally surreal shades of their performance perfectly, but for those of us in the throngs of the mosh-pit, trying to synchronise singing the lyrics back, keeping our balance amongst the ensuing melee whilst remembering to take a breath; the chances of appreciating these artistic show-reels are brief.
Heralding the precise order of the album,‘Tame
’ brings the terrifying high-pitched squeal of Black Francis (which is akin to a kitten being violated by a wolf) to the fore, precipitating more frenetic flailing bodies. Renditions of ‘Wave of Mutilation
’ and ‘I Bleed
’ flawlessly follow, while ‘Here Comes Your Man
’ provides one of the heartiest sing-alongs the SECC has surely seen in its history, ‘Dead
’s blatant paranoid edge, complete with yelps and shrieks and barks juxtaposes another sing-along anthem in the form of environmentally prophetic, alternative hymn ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven
’, complete with equally surreal and bizarre lyrics that resonates decades of on - "Rock me Joseph Alberto Santiago" indeed.
As we approach ‘Mr Grieves
he lyric album takes its name from), Kim interjects saying“we’re still on side one.”, acknowledging the linear fashion of the show. ‘Crakity Jones
’ shatters any moment of respite in fractious fashion, complete with incoherent ranting and visceral riffs that packs a ferocious punch. David Lovering shot in the limelight - ‘La La Love You
’ injects a faint whiff of comedy and light-heartedness. ‘No. 13 Baby
’ and ‘There Goes My Gun
’ are impeccable, but ‘Hey
’ still provides the pinnacle of the Pixies cannon, in my opinion; showcasing the finest elements of Joey Santiago’s and David Lovering subtle but sublime lead-work and understated back-beat, while Kim's sugar coated refrain of “Chained…” offsets Black Francis (aka Frank Black aka Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV) pleading, harassed howl. ‘Silver
’s ominous western whim segues into ‘Gouge Away
’ which reinforces that Kim’s simple fluid bass-lines provide the backbone to the anarchic lo-fi pop form of the Pixies compositions. Though there’s a tangible distance between Kim and Frank (a whole stage to be precise), any previous animosity is put to one side as the band coalesce perfectly and Kim’s sweet tones take the edge of Francis abrasive shrieks, providing an affable spokeswoman and foil to our elusive frontman.
Quiet -1st Encore – ‘Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf)
’, the reprise of our early initiated favourite, garners positive feedback along with the top-trump of b-sides ‘Into the White
’ but there’s still an unsaid air of expectancy directed at the stage.
Loud - 2nd Encore - Knowing the exact set list order, is a strange situation that I’ve only experienced when attending Sonic Youth
’s ‘Don’t Look Back’-‘Daydream Nation
’ tour, which can at times take away some of the mystique from a performance…so when a surprise second encore is rolled out, all bets are off.
Supposedly making up for the barrier crash in 1991(which Kim again acknowledges), it’s time for ‘Surfa Rosa/Come On Pilgrim
’ - often playing second fiddle to tonight’s revered album, to rear it’s abrasive head; proving a final shot-in-the-arm, with its rawer visceral edge sparking near riotous reaction.
Firing through ‘The Holiday Song
’, ‘Nimrod's Son
’ and the deceptively melodious ‘Caribou
’ in lightning speed, ‘Isla de Encanta
’, ‘Broken Face
’, ‘Something Against You
’ and ‘Vamos
’ provide sheer adrenaline to the whiplash ridden crowd, nut as a flip of a coin signals our parting farewell will be ‘Where Is My Mind
’, this now renowned tune (thanks to it’s now intrinsic link with ‘Fight Club’), elicits a mass “Whoo-ooh’s” chorus which reverberates round the venue, transforming our cavernous abode into an epicentre of emotion; clearly there’s not a dry eye in the house as Kim Deal dabs away a tear as the band wave a fond farewell; instead of leaving a wave of mutilation, they leave an awestruck overwhelmed crowd in Seventh heaven.
may have boldly stated they’d Sold Out on their reformation, and it’s acknowledged nostalgia tours have the tendency to sully reputations, but on tonight’s showing a good five years after they regrouped, they’ve lost none of their potency, chemistry or edge and as for the sheer quality of the lauded albums songs, they’re as mind bendingly bizarre, unique and influential as when this 38:38 of genius was first committed to vinyl two decades ago. True testament to an enduring artefact and securing its legacy in the pantheon of timeless albums. All in all, the Pixies
are still as innovative, eccentric and important as they ever where, providing a fitting soundtrack to a world going steadily off the rails.