First a confession - this is the first time in my life I have ever seen the Pixies, and since I've been going to gigs for (oh dear) 30 years, I've missed many a golden opportunity, and the Pixies always figured high on the list of "ones I shoulda seen". Suddenly the opportunity miraculously arises as the Pixies undertake a tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the stone classic Doolittle album. I say stone classic since I don't think I'll hear many arguments to the contrary - an album packed with great pop songs, ferocious guitars, great lyrics and brilliant vocals (plus it's on a British label). With the band playing Doolittle in full tonight, I had a slight concern that I might be seeing something that reeked only of nostalgia and might be best left alone, but in the weeks coming up to the show I've found it hard to suppress my optimism - just really hoping that these worthy veterans would deliver the goods.
Of course, they DID deliver the goods. The Pixies are a band - and by that I mean they are a genuine example of the sum adding up to more than it's (considerable) parts. They play like a band, with that wonderful sense that they are all at home where they belong when they are doing this. This was the first of three nights in Brixton - a venue the Pixies have a long history with - and their name on the dome outside could not have looked more like it was meant to be there. Indoor gig and a crowd who felt like this was their very own special band coming back to see the fans that first embraced them. All of these things meant there was a happy vibe from both band and audience.
Starting up with Dancing The Manta Ray, they warmed themselves up by plundering the b-sides box and treating us to some rare gems - Kim Deal told us that they were playing some of these songs for "maybe the fifth time ever, tonight". Then, after maybe fifteen minutes Kim Deal plays the opening riff to Debaser and the party really starts. God, they sound great. Upstairs in the Academy the sound was pretty good although I'm told it was a bit muddier downstairs, while the visual elements of the show can't be faulted - great lighting and projections, tastefully done. Each track from Doolittle sounds teriffic and the band play them all with deserved enthusiasm. It's kind of surreal - there they are playing Here Comes Your Man and Monkey Gone To Heaven, Tame, Dead, No.13.... right through to Silver which was a bit of a highlight despite it's being the slowest song they played all night, but then to follow that closely with Into The White was a masterstroke. Back for encores (twice) which included more b-sides (UK Surf version of Wave Of Mutilation) and classics (U-Mass) and ending with Gigantic - the word best used to describe the smile on Deal's face the whole night.
I was not disappointed.