It’s a reasonably mixed audience but oldies like me who saw Pixies first time around probably edge it. These type of shows where a band perform the whole of an album are both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand you are hearing a classic album (certainly in the case of Surfer Rosa) in its entirety evoking those memories of when it was first released and that point in your life but then you miss the spontaneity of the unknown setlist as you know exactly what song is coming up next. And that is very much the dilemma tonight.
The show starts about thirty minutes before the band arrive on stage with a film about the iconic images associated with both albums followed by an esoteric visual/audio experience utilising the bank of screens around the stage. It probably outstays its welcome by 15 minutes and the crowd are a little impatient by the time band eventually come on stage.
With no fanfare the band launch straight into ‘Caribou’ with the rest of the ‘Come on Pilgrim’ EP quickly following like a grunge juggernaut powering along the rock highway with no brakes, stops or pauses. There is no interaction with the crowd, no fuss, no filler and then it’s the main course of the evening for what was a highly influential album for me and music as a whole in the late eighties, ‘Surfer Rosa’. From the opening riff of ‘Bone Machine’ it’s a note for note, word for word run through of this classic album including the ad libs and chats on the record.
Its breath taking relentless stuff and whilst my memory doesn’t serve me well in terms of what the energy of the band was like thirty years ago they proved tonight they can still rock. Franks voice still has that unique range and the supporting cast provide the necessary licks and drive to transport us back to 1988. A quick break and then its back on stage for a five song encore which given what came before seemed superfluous. (I note on future nights they segmented the two albums with the encore tracks and so ended on the high of ‘Surfer Rosa’.
It would be ridiculous to have a highlight given the material but the obvious ‘hits’ of ‘Gigantic’ and ‘where is my mind’ were excellent along with both versions of ‘Vamos’.
So on the whole I think the evening worked, the oldies enjoyed it and the youngsters experiencing probably their first taste of this iconic band lapped it up too. So ‘Doolittle’ next year anyone?
Until the next time keep on grunge rockin y’all