The Breeders Make A Big Splash At Troxy

Last year The Breeders‘ biggest album, Last Splash, turned 30. They celebrated with an anniversary reissue, a Coachella performance, and a US tour. Celebrations have continued into 2024 with a support slot on Foo Fighters‘ recent Australia and New Zealand trek, a stint opening for ’90s indie fan Olivia Rodrigo at Madison Square Garden, and now their own headlining European shows. 

Tonight they reach Troxy, the beautiful Art Deco venue that, since opening in 1933, has been a cinema, opera school, and bingo hall. It’s a space built for entertainment and, on an especially glorious London evening, the audience really seem to be in the mood for fun. The band feel the same way, it turns out. 

Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25

Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25

Their show is no slavish, soulless, cynical recreation of Last Splash from beginning to end. Instead, the classic lineup of Kim Deal, Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs, and Jim Macpherson favour a more organic approach, interspersing most of the LP’s songs with hits and favourites from their back catalogue, plus plenty of banter. When Deal asks Wiggs what she’s been up to today, we get a ringing endorsement of Docklands Museum: “It’s surprisingly OK.” Later, after the English bass player is done punting band merch, Deal puts on a mock RP accent to tease: “Are you done doing adverts?” There’s a fair bit of fiddling with guitars and pedals between songs and, to cover a slightly prolonged switchover Macpherson even comes out from behind the drums to do an intentionally over the top band introduction.

It all feels really genuine and welcoming, as if the band are fully engaged with each other, the audience, and the songs. The Deal twins are especially in sync, with their interlocking guitar riffs and sweet vocal harmonies driving anthems like the summery Doe, crunching Saints, Hole-inspiring groover Safari, punky Huffer, twangy retro surf guitar rocker No Aloha, and bubbly but assertive Kelley-sung I Just Want To Get Along

Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25

Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25

As the set unfolds against the backdrop of ever-changing iconic 4AD artwork, the audience are reminded of just how eclectic The Breeders’ output has been since forming 35 years ago. Walking With A Killer, from 2018’s All Nerve, is downbeat, fragile, and decidedly creepy. Drivin’ On 9, complete with a guest violinist, is so bright and chipper it should come with a sunscreen warning. MetaGoth, with Kim making a rare appearance on bass, is a nod to classic Pixies (brooding and eerie). Lime House, one of several picks from debut album Pod and making a rare appearance to mark Troxy‘s location, is big on thrashing guitars and attitude. Off You, with Kim on vocals and guitar joined by Kelley and Wiggs both on bass, is spare, intimate, and remorseful. Invisible Man menaces and swaggers. Night Of Joy is dreamy and ethereal. Divine Hammer is simply irrepressible and ends the night on a joyous high.

But the biggest responses greet the instantly recognisable Cannonball (complete with Kim recreating that distorted vocal and whistle intro), which has the audience pogoing in unison and instantly raising the temperature, and, of course, Gigantic. As Kim plays that distinctive bassline the audience join in with “And this is I know, his teeth as white as snow”, before reaching fever pitch on “Gigantic, gigantic, gigantic/ A big, big love”.

Big Joanie @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25

Big Joanie @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
Big Joanie @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25

Tonight, that love doesn’t just come from the audience. Opening act Big Joanie make no secret of their feelings for (and influence of) The Breeders. They even play a song (Today) that lead singer Stephanie Philips proudly explains was recorded with Kim Deal. And it’s not just musically that the London band are aligned with tonight’s headliners. Early on, Philips explains their songs are sometimes slightly political, sometimes silly. So Confident Man, preceded by an especially articulate introduction, looks at society’s misguided obsession with conmen, greed, and the narrative of white male arrogance. And It’s You comes with the explanation that it’s “about men who are shit in bed” and the advice: “If you’re shit in bed don’t just accept it. Do something about it.”

They clearly make a connection. As the audience shuffle out at the end of the night, there’s a long queue at each band’s merch stand — a sure sign of a great gig.

  • Big Joanie @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25
  • Breeders @ Troxy, London - 2024.06.25

Live review of The Breeders at Troxy, London on 25th June 2024 by Nils van der Linden. Photos by Pauline Di Silvestro.

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