Thursday, 8 October 2009


Venue: Brixton Academy
Reviewer: Phil

Sepia-toned images from 1929 burn like stubble on an autumn morning against requiem violins. A man stands among giant, rusting machines; he carefully sharpens his razor. A well groomed wife takes a seat in the next room, her face tranquil and poised. The man stands behind her, taking her face in his hand, he parts the lids around her right eye. He takes the sharpened razor and holds it at her eye level. In one clean move he slices through the eyeball. Un chien andalou - an Andalusian dog.

"Do The Manta Ray!" cries Black Francis from the centre of the stage to rapturous applause. The Pixies open with four b-sides all culled from their 1989 album Doolittle before playing the album in full and in order. Black Francis sounds better than he ever did on lead vocals as he hollers, yells, barks and screams his lyrics, one minute soothing, the next shattering. Kim Deal wears a huge grin throughout, her brief words to the audience forming the only banter from the band to the crowd, her surprisingly intricate base lines providing the melody to Black Francis's sparse chords. Joey Santiago plays a mean lead guitar, occasionally grinning, looking cool and like he hasn't aged a day since the band first split in 1991. David Lovering, drummer and magician, keeps the band together with solid yet unlikely rhythms that change fluidly with Black Francis's eccentric song structures.

The Pixies Live

To be performed on a large stage. Deal plays bass, Francis plays lead vocals and guitar, Santiago plays lead guitar and Lovering drums. Behind the band a large screen projects images that correspond with each song.

Darkness. Following a screening of Un Chien Andalou, the band take to the stage.

Dancing The Manta Ray.

B sides.

Weird At My School, Bailey’s Walk, Manta Ray.

The screen behind the band bursts into life, displaying the word Doolittle in huge flashing letters.

Debaser, Tame.

It’s started.

Wave Of Mutilation, I Bleed.

Is it a surprise to you what’s coming next? I mean, do you guys already know it or do you have it on shuffle? It’s a surprise to me! I know, but it’s a surprise!

Here Come’s Your Man, Dead, Monkey Gone To Heaven.

Okay, so we’re either at the end of side one or the beginning of side two.

Mr. Grieves, Crankity Jones.

The dulcet tones of Mr. David Lovering.

And Joe!!!

La, La, Love You.

Ok, so we’re defiantly on side two now, definitely on side two.

No. 13 Baby, There Goes My Gun, Hey, Silver, Gouge Away.

That’s it, its over! Yeah, its over, records over!

Pixies leave the stage. Rapturous applause. After a suitable pause the band return to the stage.

More b-sides.

Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf), Into The White.

During the song Into The White the band are almost entirely lost in clouds of white dry ice.

The band leaves the stage for a second time. More rapturous applause. The band returns. The house lights are brought up and the band looks out over their adoring audience and grin. The house lights are left up for their final two songs.

New record!

Caribou, Gigantic.

After the last song, performed with the house lights up and nothing on the giant screens behind them, the band put down their instruments and walk back and forth along the edge of the stage, smiling, waving, triumphant but humble. They just look like ordinary people doing extraordinary things, stripped of all rock n roll pretension; they seem almost surprised at the adoring crowd that came to see them play.

So, how many songs did The Pixies play? They played 25 songs. And what did they play? They played the album Doolittle in its entirety, all its b-sides, plus Caribou from Come On Pilgrim and Gigantic from Surfa Rosa, their first single. And why have you found it so hard to write this review? Because frankly The Pixies were everything I could have hoped for, seeing them live was a dream come true. I was there, on the front row, leaning on the bars, and they were just fantastic. They sounded phenomenal! Did they sound like they do on their records? Yes, they did, exactly like they sound on their records only better, only louder. Not because they perform live exactly what is on the record but because they put on record exactly what they perform live. And to see them live was to see their whole vision come together. In short, to see them live was to have a teenage dream of mine come true. Did they plan any new material? No, but that’s just not the point. This was a reunion gig, a chance to see a band you never thought you’d ever get to see, to see them play like its still 1989. And it’s just difficult to some up in words just how good they were or how much the whole experience meant to me. This was a celebration of The Pixies' music and that’s exactly how it felt. Dude, it was awesome!