Tonight, along with six other dates on the Pixies‘ 10-date UK tour, is a sell-out for the band. And, upon arriving at the venue and seeing the hordes of fans, it feels like we’re all in for a special night.
Opening proceedings are London four-piece The Big Moon, who bound on stage and launch straight into Silent Movie Suzie, a boisterous tune which is very reminiscent of Sleeper and Elastica.
Bonfire, featuring the opening lyric “Take me to your leader”, is up next and culminates in a great bass outro. Cupid, in turn, features an intro that reminded me of Mumford & Sons, although it soon turns into a raucous chorus so any familiarity falls by the wayside.
The Big Moon certainly have that ’90s Britpop, indie, and (in some cases) grunge rock vibe going on, with their fuzzy guitars and dreamy vocals and tonight they’ve gained a fair few new fans by the crowd’s reaction.
They end their 30-minute set with Your Light, a great emotional indie-rock classic in the making.
As the O2 Academy starts to fill up, you see what a sold-out show looks like, and by the time the Pixies take the stage there’s barely any room to move.
Black Francis, Joey Santiago, Dave Lovering, and Paz Lenchantin, with mugs of what I can only imagine is tea in hand, greet the crowd with a simple smile and wave before picking up their instruments to build up and fly out the blocks with opener Gouge Away.
The Pixies ethos is: it’s not the skill you bring to the table that matters, it’s the fire. They seem to have that in abundance if the first song is anything to go by.
Rock Music and the fantastic Where Is My Mind? lift the room even further, with Nimrod’s Son and Havalina keeping the energy flowing.
Here Comes Your Man is up next. The indie rock club floor filler brings back so many memories and the crowd seem to agree as they bounce up and down screaming the chorus.
The Pixies have delivered their loud-quiet-loud signature sound for over 30 years and inspired a generation of artists along the way, like Kurt Cobain (who had no qualms admitting they inspired him to write Smells Like Teen Spirit), Radiohead, and Weezer. Their influence stretches all the way to present day with Wolf Alice.
With brand-new album Beneath the Eyrie only coming out 4 days prior to this show, fans haven’t had a proper chance to give the LP a good listen and be familiar with its songs.
It’s no surprise then that the songs played tonight from Surfer Rosa, Doolittle and Bossa Nova are those that bring the house down, with everyone singing every word. These are the classics of the Pixies back catalogue, and indeed alternative rock, and are so close to the fans’ hearts.
With little to no interaction with the audience, the Pixies blaze into each song effortlessly throughout their epic 38-song set, and you must admire their no-nonsense approach, giving the fans every song they could wish for and more.
The Pixies are no doubt very proud of their new piece of work, which is evident as they showcase every one of its 12 tracks tonight. It’s great to see that, even after three decades, the band are still fuelled and excited about performing new material. It keeps them fresh and vibrant, instead of going through the motions with their back catalogue in a tribute act kind of way.
They finish off their epic and exhausting two-hour set with the brilliant Monkey Gone to Heaven, lead single from the 1989 Doolittle album, and Tame.
Just as we think that’s it, Francis and Lovering have one last treat up their sleeve as they call the band back for the wistful Daniel Boone from Beneath the Eyrie, a sister track to 1987’s Caribou.
Tonight has been a solid performance by a band that I guess tried to please, everyone including themselves. You can’t say they haven’t given everything after two hours and 38 songs. And live, they’re still thrillingly raw and as vital as they’ve even been.
Live Review & Photography of Pixies at O2 Academy, Leeds on 17th September 2019 by Mark Bromham. To view more of Mark’s work please visit his photography site here: www.howayman.photography/livemusic