jakub | March 18, 2024

The Pixies: Bossa Nova and Trompe le Monde at The Albert Hall, Manchester, 13th of March 2024.


WORDS AND IMAGES PAUL EVANS

 

 

 

The Pixies, the enigmatic and influential alternative four-piece, emerged from the vibrant music scene of Boston, Massachusetts, way back in 1986. “Surfer Rosa” released in 1988 stunned me with its raw energy and unconventional song structures. Tracks like “Bone Machine” and “Gigantic” showcased their ability to seamlessly blend both aggression and melody and laid the groundwork for their classic second album, “Doolittle” which solidified their status as alternative music stars. “Doolittle” spawned classics like “Here Comes Your Man”, “Debaser”, “La, La Love You” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven” earning widespread acclaim for its eclectic mix of genres and darkly humorous lyrics. The Pixies’ influence on the burgeoning alternative music scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s cannot be overstated, with bands like Nirvana citing them as a major inspiration and where would “Song 2” by Blur be without them. Their influence has continued to loom large over the alternative music scene, with subsequent generations of musicians drawing inspiration from their pioneering sound cementing their status as one of the most enduring and influential bands of the last 30 years.

Tonight, it’s a journey through the band’s seminal albums “Bossa Nova” and “Trompe le Monde” in full. The Albert Hall is full. All three nights here have sold out and it’s going to be a real privilege to photograph the band who I first saw at Manchester’s International sometime in 1988. Following a quick introduction by Black Francis (probably the most I’ve heard him talk in all the times I’ve seen them to be honest) the evening kicks off with the thunderous “Cecilia Ann”, a cover version originally recorded by The Surftones.in the late 80s to sound like an undiscovered 60s surf classic. The songs blistering guitar riffs and thunderous drumming igniting the crowd into a frenzy of excitement, the band hidden in the dark, bathed in red lights. Transitioning seamlessly into “Rock Music” the band show their uncanny ability to blend aggression with melody, the songs infectious basslines anchoring the chaotic energy of the song. As per the album, “Velouria” follow, encasing the venue in a dreamlike haze with its shimmering guitar melodies and haunting vocals. It’s a great, great start, late addition bass player, Emma Richardson, from The Band of Skulls, fitting seamlessly into the iconic four string role.

“Alison” and “Is She Weird” again show the band’s knack for crafting infectious pop hooks with a dark, surrealistic edge, while “Ana” and “All Over the World” explore experimental territory with their brooding atmospherics and unconventional song structures. “Dig for Fire” and “Down to the Well” elicit cheers of recognition from the heaving crowd, with their anthemic choruses and infectious energy. The Pixies have dazzled with their electrifying performance so far and I’d probably say it’s the best I’ve seen or heard them.

 

 

As the night progresses, the “Bossa Nova” album gives us “The Happening” and “Blown Away” inviting us to lose ourselves in the songs mesmerizing soundscapes. “Hang Wire” and “Stormy Weather” provide slight moments of introspection and reflection, with their haunting strains and evocative lyrics touching the hearts of all who are here. I’m taken aback by how good the album is. It’s still fresh after all these years and with a performance like this I’m guessing they’ll be even more musicians using the bands influence. “Planet of Sound” unleashes a wave of energy and excitement, with its infectious grooves and dynamic instrumentation leaving me clamouring for more. “Alec Eiffel” and “The Sad Punk” showcase The Pixies’ penchant for experimentation, with their intricate arrangements and cryptic lyrics. Bass player Emma, still playing a blinder.

As the set draws to a close, the encore is nothing short of spectacular. “Vegas Suite” offers a tantalizing glimpse into the band’s future, with its infectious hooks and infectious energy and “Here Comes Your Man” and “Where Is My Mind?” provide the perfect conclusion to the evening with their timeless melodies and iconic hooks eliciting cheers of recognition and appreciation from the crowd. These beloved classics serving as a reminder of The Pixies’ enduring legacy and continuing relevance in the world of alternative music.

As the final chords of “Where Is My Mind?” fade into the night, we are left with a sense of awe and reverence for the band that have taken us on a sonic journey unlike any other tonight.  In the hallowed halls of Albert Hall, The Pixies have once again proven why they are revered as one of the greatest alternative bands of all time. It’s a performance that I’ll remember for years to come.

 

The Pixies are:-

Black Francis (vocals, rhythm guitar)

Joey Santiago (lead guitar)

Emma Richardson (bass, backing vocals)

David Lovering (drums)

 

 

Setlist:

1. Cecilia Ann

2. Rock Music

3. Velouria

4. Allison

5. Is She Weird

6. Ana

7. All Over the World

8. Dig for Fire

9. Down to the Well

10. The Happening

11. Blown Away

12. Hang Wire

13. Stormy Weather

14. Havalina

15. Planet of Sound

16. Alec Eiffel

17. The Sad Punk

18. Head On

19. U-Mass

20. Palace of the Brine

21. Letter to Memphis

22. Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons

23. Space (I Believe In)

24. Subbacultcha

25. Distance Equals Rate Times Time

26. Lovely Day

27. Motorway to Roswell

28. The Navajo Know

Encore:

29. Vegas Suite

30. Here Comes Your Man

31. Where Is My Mind?

 

 

 

 

 

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