Now, if you happen to follow me on Twitter or Facebook or even know me in the real world, you may have noticed something last Friday. I was excited. I had seen the Pixes before, back in 2005 when they headlined the Friday at the Reading festival but this was gonna be different, this was the Barras. What was lacking back in 2005 was the atmosphere, the connection between band and crowd, mainly because of the yawning chasm between the crowd and the stage. Obviously, that’s just the way that festivals are, not much can be done, so to see them at the Barras, where I would be just feet away was going to be a treat.
The only slight concern voiced amongst the people I was heading to the gig with was the Kim issue. Original bassist Kim Deal had departed the band earlier this year and her spot had been taken, helpfully, by Kim Shattuck. NewKim is the lead singer and guitarist with the Muffs, but for many, well for most, OldKim has been as integral as anyone to the sound and identity of the Pixies.
Well, it appears we needn’t have worried. The band came on and headed straight into the more laid back UK Surf version of ‘Wave of Mutilation’. It was magnificent and set the tone for the next 90 minutes or so. 34 songs, bang, bang, bang, one after the other. No breaks, no interaction with the crowd, it was all about the songs. The wonderful, glorious songs. The band mixed it up as they have done throughout the tour including chucking in 4 new ones, the highlights of these being the hefty ‘What Goes Boom’ and in particular, ‘Bagboy’. The latter really gave Kim a chance to showcase her backing vocals, such an important part of OldKim’s role. The new songs fitted in brilliantly with the older stuff in the setlist, ‘Isla de Encanta’ ‘Tame’ and ‘Levitate Me’ all sounding strong at the start of the set.
It was around the 20 minute mark that something happened though. Something that hasn’t happened for quite some time. I threw caution to the wind, dumped my jacket in the cloakroom and went for it. By the time the band hit us with ‘Gouge Away’ and ‘Broken Face’ I was fully ensconced in the warming bosom of the pit. This is what I had missed back at Reading, being mere feet away from the band as they powered through these fantastic tunes. It really was a glorious feeling.
If there was a minor grumble, it would be that there was no interaction. Not even a thank you at the end of the night. The closest we got was the look of glee on Joey Santiago’s face during the set-closing ‘Vamos’ which was extended out to a good ten minutes of screeching guitar noise. A great way to finish the night. But, despite the omission of certain tunes like ‘Gigantic’ and ‘Into the White’ where OldKim takes lead vocals, I don’t think that there could be many complaints at all about Kim Shattuck. She seemed to fit in with the band and their sound and looked to be having a great time onstage. But I tell you, probably not as good a time as I had! As for the setlist, with a back catalogue as strong as they have then there are always going to be songs that people want to hear. I prefer to concentrate on the fact that they did so many songs that I love.
There’s always the possibility that when a band gets back together or when an integral member is replaced that they can start to sound tired or that it’s a case of one last payday. But the form that Black Francis and the rest are in just now, it’s definitely not the case. With the new songs they played, hopefully a new album isn’t far off. And that’s something that I can’t wait for.
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