Thursday, 12 July 2018

Memories of 2018 gigs #3

The Breeders
Support: Pip Blom
O2 Academy, Bristol - 10 July 2018

It's still hot here. Hot gigs can be fun, but when it's been sweltering all day it's sometimes not what you're looking forward to that much. Fortunately, Bristol's O2 Academy is air-conditioned so it was actually OK in there. For a while, anyway. Plus The Breeders were in town, and I'd crawl over hot coals in a Saharan heatwave for Kim Deal, so nothing was going to put me off.

The sell-out crowd wouldn't need warming up in a literal sense, but support act Pip Blom certainly got things off to a pacey start. Hailing from Amsterdam and named after their lead singer, erm, Pip Blom, they were one of the more energetic bands I've seen of late. Pip is the daughter of former (Peel favourites) Eton Crop frontman Erwin Blom so she has good musical genes. I'm sure many of my regular readers would enjoy tracks like School, I Think I'm In Love and current single Pussycat. (Brian, I'm especially thinking of you!) Their Bandcamp page is rich with their offerings to date. Highy recommended stuff.

So where do I start with The Breeders? Well, I have this fear. I fear that, when you hold someone in such high regard - when you idolise their work, when they've got you through some tough times, when they continue to restore your faith in popular music - at some point they're going to let you down. It's the law of averages, right? So my fear was that The Breeders would not - could not - live up to my expectations. They could never be as amazing as the picture I have of them in my head. Right?

WRONG! When Kim, Kelley, Josephine and Jim came onstage and launched into New Year and followed it up with Wait In The Car, they already had me convinced. For an hour and a half, The Breeders not only lived up to my hopes and expectations, they exceeded them. Everything I love about them - and all Kim's work in general - was on display. The rawness, the quirkiness, the honesty and the sheer all-round fun (even in dark, sinister songs like Walking With A Killer and All Nerve) was in abundance.

The set drew mainly from the new album and the seminal 'Last Splash', which is understandable seeing as this line-up made them. All the new songs sounded great. My favourite track on the new album, Howl At The Summit, was immense and put a massive grin on my face. Josephine's deadpan delivery on Metagoth was another peak moment. That song in particular summed up what made this such a good show. Metagoth is full of weird and wonderful sounds and effects, and live the band succeeds in reproducing them. I'm not an advocate of bands trying to sound the same live as they do on record - what's the point of that? - but The Breeders have tried to make the songs work in the concert setting. They sound like they're supposed to, only edgier and sharper.

There were smatterings of other old faves too: Glorious, Fortunately Gone and Happiness Is A Warm Gun from 'Pod' went down a storm, as expected, as did Safari. But for me, one of the big highlights was Off You, one of Kim's most delicate, beautiful and quiet songs. It has been one of my fave Breeders songs since its release just prior to 'Title TK' in 2002, and it was a wonderful surprise to hear it played here. The crowd hushed as Kim, Kelly and Josephine delivered a quite stunning, spellbinding performance. That was one of those 'wow' moments I've spoken about before. (The last one I had was at last year's Nadine Shah show in Cardiff).

To top it all off, the banter between band members and audience was great fun too. Josephine showed us the toy bubble machine she bought earlier in the day. "Bubbles make everything better," she said. Kim and Kelley mainly took the piss out of Josephine. "How does it feel to be back playing to your people?" Kim asked her British bass player, before making fun of her accent. The crowd got it too. Whenever a shout came from an audience member, Kim looked puzzled and asked Josephine "Do you know what that meant? I need a translator." Kelley sang the violin part in Drivin' On 9 as "we don't have a violin player", after which she was greeted with the largest cheer of the night.

Oh, and then there was Cannonball. And Gigantic. What more do you need to know?

Despite the air-con, the Academy got hotter and sweatier and sweatier and hotter as the night wore on - but I didn't care. When we stepped outside, I wasn't so disappointed about it still being 25 degrees and horribly muggy at 11pm as I was about the show having come to an end. Without a doubt, Kim, Kelley and the gang didn't let me down. My fears have subsided.

Here's the video of that Cannonball performance recorded for US public radio earlier this year:


  1. Well that sounds like it was a splendid evening out - great review. I like what I've heard of Pip Blom on 6Music and will investigate further on your recommendation, particularly now that I know it's Blom not Blond as I originally thought!

  2. Great review, convincing me I need to listen more to a band I never really "got", despite them pushing every button I own and loving Cannonball.

  3. Boy, now I really regret not seeing them when they came through here earlier this year. That photo is a keeper. I just listened to the last two singles from Pip Blom. Looove it! Going back for more. Completely new to me. Thanks for that.