Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Pixies in Cardiff

“Everyone’s so old” said a voice, in the crowded pub around the corner from the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, just before the Pixies’ gig. Alright, the voice was mine; the band did form, after all, thirty years ago (in Boston Massachusetts), becoming UK indie favourites (much played by John Peel and his night-time Radio One colleagues) in the late 1980s. And there was definitely the whiff of nostalgia in the air.

Those questing souls who could be bothered to make it into the venue before 8pm were rewarded with a short but intense set from Malmo-based four-piece Fews, who delivered some tasty, drone-inflected power-pop, the single “The Zoo” going down especially well.

The headliners kicked off their 100-minute concert with “Bone Machine” (the first track from “Surfer Rosa”, their debut album), segueing into classic single “Monkey Gone To Heaven”; the set as a whole, however, leant heavily on the newer material, such as the punky “Um Chagga Lagga”. Most of the hits were present, however: “Wave Of Mutilation”, “Velouria”, “Debaser”, Neil Young’s “Winterlong”, Here Comes Your Man”, “Caribou”; and “Where Is My Mind” in particular prompted a mass outbreak of smartphone video-recording.

Black Francis was coolly authoritative throughout; long-time co-guitarist Joey Santiago seemed in good health following his recent trouble; drummer Dave Lovering was the exuberant solid rock (and occasional vocalist); and the charming Paz Lenchantin seems to have slotted seamlessly into Kim Deal’s role as moderating female influence (although Deal’s “Gigantic” was absent from the set).

New single “Classic Masher” (one of the best things they’ve ever done) signalled that things were drawing to a close, and following an epic “Vamos”, the band seemed to disappear into clouds of smoke, but emerged to conclude with an even more epic “Into The White”, led by Lenchantin. They then took a graceful bow before abandoning the faithful to their mental exhaustion.

Pixies taking a bow (picture: Pixies)

Less of an exercise in nostalgia, then, than a lesson from a gang of old masters in how to weave a spell. Exhilarating.

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