Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Memories of a thousand* gigs - #9

(* probably not actually that many, but who’s counting?)

#9 Pixies
Great Hall, Exeter University - 16th Oct 1990

A number of my old gig tales up to this point have been about things that happened around the show rather than the show itself. This one, though is all about the performance – an extraordinary one at that.

Pixies were touring their third full-length album (fourth if you include ‘Come On Pilgrim’). They were now regarded as gods of the alternative music scene, though I fear that may have been underestimating them! Rarely had I anticipated seeing a band as much as this. They opened with Cecilia Ann whilst hidden behind a black curtain. The last chord rang out, the curtains opened and one of the most relentless, breathtaking concerts I’ve ever attended properly cranked into gear.

For the first 20 or so minutes, there was barely a second to spare; each song was rattled off with such energy, at such breakneck speed, no time for chat – songs were hurled at us like bullets from a machine gun, each one faster, louder and even more goddam fun than on record. Rock Music in particular was so visceral it was scary. It was also hugely exhilarating.

Towards the middle of the show, it slowed down as Black Francis switched to his acoustic guitar and a ‘chill-out’ section of the set ensued, including the so-called UK Surf version of Wave of Mutilation. Of course, it finished with a bang as a final round of tunes was unleashed with the force of a hurricane.

Yet this was a band on the edge. Francis and Kim were barely speaking, and she was exercising her writing and vocal skills with her side project (at the time) the Breeders as she wasn’t getting a look in with Pixies. In spite of this though, the chemistry on stage was explosive and it seemed as if this band would go on forever.

I left the Great Hall sweaty and satiated, a new Pixies t-shirt to the good and one hell of a memory!


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