Pixies at Iveagh Gardens, Dublin, 14th July 2016
What should one expect from a Pixies gig? Well there’s obviously a lot of loud, a little quiet and then a lot more loud. There’ll probably be a dearth of crowd interaction, if any at all. There’ll also probably be a raft of hits from sometime in the last 30 years.
The crowd is certainly an older crowd that may have been around this particular block more than once – it is Pixies fourth outdoor gig in 11 years in Dublin alone – and they know what to expect.
Bleeding Heart Pigeons open the evening, but don’t leave this reviewer with much of an impression. Their sombre rock shtick is well put together but perhaps a little low key for a crowd awaiting something more substantial.
When the headliners take to the stage, they offer a polite wave – pretty much the only acknowledgement of the audience save for a bow before the encore – turn towards Dave Lovering and crack into ‘Velvety’ facing that way.
But before the show becomes a Latin mass, Mr Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, or Black Francis if you’d prefer, turns to the mic and screams Isla De Encanta down the PA. It’s a truly monumental scream that must put honey and lemon on the everyday’s breakfast menu. And Michael Douglas thought cunnilingus was tough on the throat.
It has all the tightness and the bombast you’d expect from a Pixies show and Francis has a perfect foil in Paz Lenchantin (the first Pixies bassist not to be called Kim). She does an impression of ‘80s Kim Deal that even ‘80s Kim Deal would struggle to match on the intro to Tony’s Theme and harmonises supremely with the main man on Euphrates. She doesn’t get a ‘Gigantic’ to take the lead on, but it’s hard to imagine a better support player to this band right now.
There are a couple of down notes as the set reaches its middle. The newer material can’t stack up to what came earlier in Pixies’ career and when Indie Cindy is followed by the mid-tempo (by their standards) Brick is Red you feel your mind fogging.
Then, like a kick to the adrenal glands, Broken Face and Crackity Jones screams the whole place back to attention like Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. From here, the show is a resounding success.
There are sing-alongs for the likes of Monkey Gone to Heaven and Where is My Mind? (played just as the sun sets), where a couple of thousand people simultaneously miss the same high note. There’s songs like Gouge Away and I’ve Been Tired that get the crowd moving. There’s even some self indulgence, with Joey Santiago going on a bit of a meander with his guitar during Vamos.
Francis lets out one more screamer in ‘Tame’ just before the encore, and it’s a triumphant scream surely heard throughout Dublin 2. Debaser closes the 90 minute set and Pixies exit the stage in as low key a manner as they entered it.
You might know exactly what you’re going to get from a Pixies gig. That, however, doesn’t mean that it can’t still be thrilling. Pixies will be back soon enough no doubt. We can’t wait.