For their long awaited appearance at the Galway Arts Festival, Pixies delivered a momentum fuelled night, rip roaring through over 30 tracks, and holding a jammed Heineken Big Top in their thrall.
If you’re looking for a night of great storytelling and stage banter then you’re at the wrong gig, once Black Francis & his compadres take to the stage there’s a knowing nod to the crowd and then we’re off, with Cactus setting the high standard for what is to come, followed almost instantaneously by Here Comes Your Man which of course sends the throng into early delirium.
And there really is no let up, Black’s rhythm guitar on Ed is Dead is masterful, while Joey Santiago wrangles sublime sonic crescendos for Nimrod’s Son, and on Vamos Dave Lovering and Paz Lenchantin’s rhythmic duel entrances.
It’s a breathtaking start to proceedings that only slightly relents for the next few numbers before The Holiday Song brings the pace right back up again. We are then treated to one of the highlights of the set with Gouge Away, an intro dripping with slow burn teasing menace that sees our band in almost hypnotic unison before they let unleash a frenzy which sends the masses crazy.
Strangely enough Monkey Gone to Heaven is a little subdued, however their latest single There’s a Moon On gets a warm reception, and Wave Of Mutilation has such an energising effect that it prompts a mini stage invasion.
But even that didn’t knock the band off their stride. In fact if anything they up the ante, rattling off Broken Face, Crackity Jones, Isla de Encanta and Gigantic in quick succession, before a wonderfully dark and cerebral Planet of Sound. Bone Machine is delivered with a playful sense of swing about it that really works, and that sets us up for full-on party mode with the band gloriously blasting out Head On, their superb Jesus and Mary Chain cover.
But that is nothing in comparison to Hey, which provides what must be one of the most bizarre singalong anthems with the audience joyously joining in despite the song’s dark and twisted themes, it also sees Santiago and Lenchantin at their best.
The night’s propulsive journey through the Pixies repertoire is brought to a close with a gloriously eclectic trio of tracks. Ana which conjures images of wide open vistas is class personified, Where Is My Mind? which stands on the upper plinth of the Pixies’ discography absolutely delights with the crowd and band joining together for its haunting coda, and finally we’re treated to a sumptuous cover version of Neil Young’s Winterlong, which perhaps perplexes those who may not be quite Pixies completists.
All that is left then is for each of the band to take their individual dues from the crowd, before taking centre stage as one for the continuing adulation which engenders what looks like a genuine heartfelt response from a band who’ve just spent ninety minutes delivering an almost perfect power-packed performance.
Photographs taken at Iveagh Gardens, Dublin