The Breeders at Vicar Street on 14th June 2013
“Hi! We’re The Breeders and we’re gonna play ‘Last Splash’” announces Kim Deal as she, Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Carrie Bradley line the stage. This is music to the ears on the day of a bizarre announcement from her ‘other’ band that Deal “has decided to leave The Pixies.”
While speculation may have been rife among fans of both bands on this, there is neither mention nor sign that anything isn’t as it should be – the Deal sisters are smiling and giggling, Wiggs is stoic as ever, Bradley is a kinetic dancing force at sidestage, and drummer Jim Macpherson is on usual firecracker form. The crowd is equally excitable – there’s certainly no speculation on what the setlist will involve, so there’s nothing for it but to let everyone’s favourite ex-Pixie lead the charge.
Support comes from San Francisco’s The Fresh & Onlys, who enter a sparsely populated Vicar Street without fanfare and begin with a Smiths-y Presence Of Mind. By the end of follower Fire Alarm their infectious power pop has garnered a few more bodies from the bar, and it’s already becoming more like the gig it deserves to be. The band seem to feed off the gathering, and the drummer goes for it in the instrumental passage of Until The End Of Time. “Is it always like this?” asks singer Tim Cohen of the band’s first visit to Ireland – we wonder if he’s referring to the weather or the crowd – later stating he’s “never seen this many Irish people all at once.”
He’s warming to the interaction and the false start to Dream Girls is a result of his chatter; once they get it going, though, it’s a summery slice of Teenage Fanclub style romanticism. They step things up in the final numbers with Euphoria’s bellowing, stadium-striving vocal parts and the final rock-out ending. From a few stragglers at the front to begin, the crowd has almost filled the floor, and that says it all.
New Year rings out loud – Bradley shakes with the music, Kelley is bent over her guitar, and The Breeders ignite ‘Last Splash’ in style. The crowd gives an expected, delighted response to that distorted vocal that begins Cannonball. Macpherson’s tapped drum intro gets another, but it is Wiggs’ distinctive bassline that sets the night off in true fashion, with the crowd hopping as the song lifts at the chorus.
“We even brought the wind chimes from Ohio for the next song” says Kim as the well-travelled chimes lead into No Aloha. Kim goes it alone to begin, as Wiggs and Kelley hang back at the amps. The crowd help her out on the breathy vocal, and then…it rocks the fuck out, with Macpherson hammering his toms into submission. Go Jim! “Those are the same ones we used twenty years ago, those chimes.” The chimes are duly revered.
As on the album, Wiggs takes over drumming duties for Roi, and Macpherson dons bass for a grungey version. Flipside gets an equally rowdy run-through, before we are informed by her sister that “Kelley has the blues, so she’s gonna sing a song about it.”
Kelley takes lead vocal for I Just Wanna Get Along, whose mid-section is punctuated by a cry from Kim – “Wait! I just got completely lost!” “That’s Okay Kim. We got ya” from Kelley then as the song ends. The band are full of fun tonight, and even Wiggs steps up to have a jibe – “They all have jetlag…not I,” she drawls, and then her bass rumble is pervading the room, vibrating bodies as Kim’s vocal oscillates on Mad Lucas and Bradley’s violin squall floats on top.
All heads turn to Macpherson for a count-in to a fantastic Divine Hammer, with the stage bathed in a red glow and Bradley grooving around on tambourine. Saints is another Bradley favourite, it seems, dancing away behind the keys between her high-pitched backing vocal sections – they’re clearly having fun with this one.
A murmur of crowd vocal adorns the ever-beautiful Drivin’ On 9, while Kelley and Bradley take turns plucking out the song’s refrain. The song gets more full-bodied in the instrumental section – the crowd pick up on it and shuffle accordingly, and a slow dance even breaks out on the balcony. Roi (Reprise) is the brief, heavy coda, rounding off the album run-through as forcefully as it began.
The cheers and whistles ring out as Kelley strums out an extended intro to fellow Dayton heroes Guided By Voices’ song Shocker In Gloomtown, followed by the punky, Wiggs-penned Head To Toe. The Beatles’ Happiness Is A Warm Gun is full of menace despite the sweet vocals, driven by the kick drum and Kelley’s slashed guitar chords. With Opened we are treated to the band’s “début ever playing of this song ever…ever. Ever!”
A roadie is summoned to kneel in front of Kim to hold a lyric sheet at one moment – “Don’t judge me Mike, just do it!” Each time she enquires of the crowd’s well-being during the set the affirmation is louder each time, with a ‘Pod’-heavy encore going down a storm. Oh and Limehouse round off a night that went from strength to strength, from a classic album by a classic line-up, to a mixed bag of Breeders treats. The band were on fine form and the crowd returned the love…because Kim Deal is just the best.
The Breeders Photo Gallery
Photos: Aaron Corr