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AAA Music | 18 September 2019

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Pixies @ Troxy Ballroom

| On 05, Jun 2010

London, 3rd June

Halfway through the Pixies’ heroic showing at Mile End’s Troxy Ballroom something occurred to me that was something of a rarity, I had yet to think of a snappy opening statement to my inevitable review of it that sums up the entire night. The set was so tight, so majestic, so utterly captivating that my entire focus was on the music itself and the four alternative rock godheads standing about ten metres away. And no, the irony of this becoming my snappy opening statement to my inevitable review is not lost on me, as it happens.

Backlit by a several blinding lights, the four piece begin by hurtling through their phenomenally exciting cover of The SurftonesCecilia Ann as the audience go certifiably ballistic. They don’t let up over the course of the night, the inspired set list mixing the classics with lesser spotted material from later albums Trompe le Monde and Bossanova. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the audience responds to this set with such delirium, they did choose it by emailing the band with their requests.

The band then stops a show that’s barely started by rolling out Bone Machine, followed by Monkey Gone to Heaven, into Gouge Away and starting the first big singalong of the night with Hey. From then on they could have covered JLS on detuned Ukuleles and people would still exit claiming it was the best night of there lives, thankfully they didn’t and delved into there lesser known albums before slaying the audience yet again with Debaser.

What has always set apart Pixies’ reunion from pretty much every reunion tour ever is how well they still play and how into it they are. This is no trudge around arenas to top up the pension fund that they so easily could do, while the whole band stand pretty much stock still on stage the sheer force of their playing still knocks for six at twenty paces. Frank Black still has a genuinely terrifying howl, Kim Deals bass lines are still as deliciously ominous as ever and Dave Lovering provides a deceptively inspired backing for everyone onstage. Joey Santiago, meanwhile, is something else entirely.

While there was probably more room for improvisation, Santiago was still utterly on fire, the poppy songs giving voice to his melodic nous and everything else given to making his guitar sound like it was on fire, and loving it! Particular highlights of the latter half of the set included a frantic run through of their cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Head On and a spine tingling Tame. It must contrast with the venues respected feel to have 2701 voices howl “TAAAAME” with homicidal intent at once.

In short, the Pixies doing gigs this monumental at this stage in their career is nothing new, just look at the reception of their Doolittle series of gigs last October. But it’s also nothing we should take for granted. In fact, everyone with at least a passing interest in alternative music should count their blessings we still have these abrasive, all-conquering indie titans, a reputation that, as Where Is My Mind and Here Comes Your Man close out the evening, has never been more fitting.

Author: Will Howard