It’s the second night of Pixies’ London run, and Brixton Academy is wall-to-wall bodies. In the minutes before the band take the stage the room buzzes with energy, which boils over when they emerge in front of a suitably swampy backdrop.
The Pixies live show is no fuss, few frills, and minimal crowd interaction. They hit every note without fanfare, allowing their experience and iconic catalogue to speak for themselves. They power through like some kind of alt-rock jukebox, and only falter during an aborted run through of ‘Indie Cindy’. After two false starts frontman Black Francis abandons the song completely in favour of a more successful ‘Something Against You’.
Pixies are well-known for their ever-changing setlists, and tonight tracks off this year’s ‘Head Carrier’ slot in beside a few classics. Recent singles ‘Um Chagga Lagga’ and ‘Tenement Song’ are well-received, but from there the crowd’s feelings on the new output are mixed at best. During ‘Oona’, a loud voice by the bar calls ‘pack up with the new shit!’ ‘Head Carrier’ album track ‘Plaster of Paris’ is met with similar indifference. Luckily, all is forgiven when the first beats of ‘Surfer Rosa’ classic ‘Bone Machine’ clatter through the speakers. This song might as well have been custom made for outcasts’ sing-a-longs.
The infamous ‘Where Is My Mind?’ is notably absent after opening last night’s performance, but ‘Wave of Mutilation’ and ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’ are cranked out at full pelt. After firing out the double-whammy of ‘Ed is Dead’ and ‘Vamos’, Pixies leave the stage. A few minutes later a thick blanket of smoke rolls out across the crowd, filling the room. As blinding lights begin to flash, the band return with the disorienting ‘Into the White’. They are near impossible to see under the smoke, giving bassist Paz Lenchantin’s alienated vocal a psychedelic slant. By the time their cover clears, Pixies are gone.
Photos: Ellen Offredy