Gig/Concert: Pixies at the SECC, Glasgow with Sons and Daughters
Venue: SECC, Glasgow, UK
Date: 4 October 2009
In one word: Faux-art
The gig kicks off and heads south with the distinctive-enough pop goth stylings of Glasgow’s Sons and Daughters. I suppose I should stress: the songs are great; slinky, crafted, Phrygian things. Hell, in places it’s almost rock music.
In particular, the opener, ‘Gilt Complex’ is a tasty Cramps-meets-Siouxsie blast.
But they’re so apologetic for being onstage – so hesitant, perhaps, to be getting in the way of the Pixies – that they don’t convince us, and fail to exploit the sexy potency they have on record.
This, coupled to singer Adele Bethel’s breathless, bland-nothings banter, means that all they get out of the crowd is a sense of polite observation and patient foot-tapping.
A couple of nice tribute songs – one to the infamous Glasgow lech Bible John, one for Johnny Cash – arouse some passion by the end, and they slink gratefully off, duty discharged.
A beat. An eerie ambient backing track begins to play. “Un chien Andalou” by Luis Buñuel rolls on the big screen. And, one by silhouetted one, the Pixies take the stage, motionlessly watching the film, as no doubt we are meant to.
It takes about fifty seconds of this for what I suppose is Glasgow’s natural aversion to pretension to kick in, with a big mon directly behind me bellowing, “What is this, Depeche Mode? Get the fuckin Pixies oan!”
Well, aye. If you’re looking for someone to blame for art-rock, officer, I’d inform on these guys in an instant. The tape continues for five or six minutes, mostly to fidgeting and light-hearted heckles. Sure, it’s obtuse, but is it art?
Maybe. The pretence to art. A dance around art. That’s maybe all the Pixies ever really were. The namedrops, the airs and the mystery of it all, which is all that most art-rock ever accomplishes.
But you can forgive them all that – the conceit, the pondering, even that Minotaur boxset monstrosity – when they’re this tight, this fractious and ingenious, this much the morbid Latino art-punks sporting a set of Dali’s eyes. No one in rock has matched their resolved dischords – see “Dead” for a glorious, cresting example – or the masking of potent melody inside barbs.
I’ll confess here that I went to the gig imagining decay, signs of cash-in or of strain. And, while Frank Black looks disturbingly like a shaven John Goodman, his voice remains as demented, as high – higher in the most part than Kim Deal’s lines go – as ever. Screeching into his middle age.
Bassist Kim Deal carries the banter – none of the others speak a word to us – doling out B-side info and presenting a deep-set permanent grin.
They get b-sides out of the way before stalking their way through 1989’s Doolittle, in order, in full. It’s an eclectic thing, and they’re unafraid to actually play the songs rather than repeat them by rote, so ‘Mr Grieves’ takes on a touch of morbid ska and the parody “La La Love You” more of a leer than is canon.
The first encore is the other two period b-sides, one a wonderful, understated version of the album track “Wave of Mutilation” and the other the incandescent space-punk of “Into The White”.
It’s not thirty seconds before they return. Hopping out for another encore, and as delighted as she’s been all night, Kim Deal tells us: “We played here in ’91 but the stage buckled. Tell your mom and dad we finished the set, yeah?”
A breakneck selection from Surfer Rosa and Come on Pilgrim follows, displaying their earlier, fiercer, Spanish legacy. It’s an intense parade; seven songs hurtled through in 15mins, before Kim flips a coin to choose… and announces with a wink the last, courtesy number, “Where Is My Mind?” to general euphoria.
A group bow closes the faux-theatre they’ve laboured on. It is a beery kind of intelligentsia that stumble gleefully to the exits.
© Gavin Leech
Dancing The Manta Ray [b-side]
Weird At My School [b-side]
Bailey’s Walk [b-side]
Manta Ray [b-side]
Wave Of Mutilation
Here Comes Your Man
Monkey Gone To Heaven
La La Love You
No. 13 Baby
There Goes My Gun
Wave Of Mutilation [Awesome Lounge Version]
Into The White
The Holiday Song
Something Against You
Isla De Encanta
Where Is My Mind?
Music Vice Review and Photos of Virgin Festival Ontario, Toronto 2009 featuring the Pixies
Music Vice Review and Photos of Virgin Festival Toronto, 2008 featuring Sons And Daughters
The Pixies – MySpace
Sons And Daughters – MySpace