It's easy to forget that Pixies ever were a band that left the circuit. However, their 2004 reunion tour proved to the world that a band could come back and return to mass fan appeal. During their reunion tour of '04, they sold out Brixton Academy for a four-day residency. They proved to the world that nostalgia sells and it could be argued that they are partly responsible for the waves of reunion tours we have seen since. However to state that Pixies are a nostalgia act is to do a disservice to them. Especially since said tour they have released two albums; the disappointing Indie Cindy and this years fantastic return Head Carrier, which is probably one of their strongest albums since Doolittle.
One of the most enjoyable aspects about Pixies is that they are a band built entirely on contradiction and idiosyncrasy. A band now teeming with legendary status, Pixies returned to Brixton Academy bringing their undeniably influential and extreme loud-quiet-loud dynamic which has been attempted (but never mastered quite like them) by swaths of imitators. They returned to what they have deemed 'their spiritual home' for what is an onslaught of a return to Brixton Academy for the first of a three-day residency. That onslaught is a cacophony of guttural noise, low lighting and a no nonsense mixture of songs both old and new.
Playing a colossal set of 32 tracks, there is no nonsense around this performance and that is part of the charm of this band. There is genuine anger and rage in their alt-punk sound, and their undeniable influence on the 90's grunge scene is almost tactile. They open their huge set brashly and comically with the iconic Where Is My Mind? Whether you get this from their seminal album Surfer Rosa or from the soundtrack of Fight Club is irrelevant, everyone is screaming along with Black Francis through the murkiness of noise they provide during the early parts of their set. They continue relentlessly with powerful renditions of Nimrod's Son, Break My Body and Brick Is Red without so much as a breath or a wipe of the brow.
The undertow of this sludge-textured noise-rock annunciates the remarkable spindly guitar work of Joey Santiago. Midway through the set they break into the instantly recognisable Here Comes Your Man, and this is where the brilliant oddity of Pixies truly shines. A band that Kurt Cobain once claimed to be trying to rip off with Nirvana break out into one of their most loved songs which is essentially a 50's surfer-rock track. It's received with childish glee throughout the crowd. After a professional gloss through tracks from their back catalogue as well as the new album, playing other hits such as Velouria and Caribou, the band close their set with an unbelievable string of tracks - Hey, Gouge Away, Debaser and Tame, and then return for a one track encore with Into The White.
This first show of three that Pixies have planned at Brixton Academy prove a handful of truths; Pixies are still brilliant live after all these years, they are still as relentlessly relevant as ever in their rage and demented lyrical subject matter, and that the word 'legend' gets thrown around far too lightly.
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