Pixies + The Big Moon – Newcastle O2 Academy – Review

Pixies + The Big Moon – Newcastle O2 Academy – Review

Here’s a massive hint. If you’re heading to a gig in Newcastle and United are at home and kicking off at 5.30pm don’t even try and get a parking space in town. The answer – get the Metro in from Gateshead. Quick, easy, cheap.

The sold out Academy is filling quickly. Even at just after 7pm there’s a sizeable number in and by the time The Big Moon hit the stage at eight the place is busy. Great news for this four piece who deliver a set of perfectly jagged poppy alternative rock. Rhythmic and melodic their infectious tunes have hold of the audience within seconds. This is a band clearly enjoying themselves. They bounce around the stage with smiles aplenty, their seven song set quickly gaining them significant numbers of new fans. With songs from throughout their shortish career – the slashing guitars of ‘Silent Movie Susie’, the delicate intro to ‘Cupid’, the rumbling beat of recently released ‘Your Light’ – it’s a perfect mix of dark riffs, perfect jangly pop hooks and sing-a-long choruses. The audience love them and their joy in the crowds reaction is abundantly obvious.

By the time the headliners walk out the place is rammed and they’re greeted like long lost heroes. But Pixies don’t follow the same routine night after night. They don’t play greatest hits sets. Their set list varies, you cannot predict what will be played from one song to the next. Pixies walk on stage and deliver a two hour set with no chit-chat between songs. They just get on with it. They do what they want to do. They’re not here to please anyone but themselves. But what you can predict is that a band with a new album to promote is going to play a chunk of songs from it. So why do people pay a hefty amount of cash to see a band and not even think about giving said album a listen? In this day and age, with Spotify etc, there’s no excuse. Yet “What the fuck is this? I don’t know this! I only like the old ones.” spews out of the mouths of a group of people I end up standing behind. It’s a slow(ish) start. Not a poor start. The songs are great but opener “All The Saints” doesn’t exactly make the crowd bounce. “Brick Is Red” and “Break My Body” should do but despite some top drawer classics – “Ed Is Dead” being a prime example – it isn’t really until “Here Comes Your Man” that people really move, losing themselves in the atmosphere and singing back the words. “Nimrod’s Son” is immense, “Dead” punches right through you, the rumbling bass, slicing guitar and the screeching voice of Black Francis make “Gouge Away” one of the many highlights. Pixies purists should, by now, have realised that Kim Deal is not missed. Paz Lenchantin fits right in. Dave Lovering kills his massive drum kit, Joey Santiago’s guitar work is some of the best and most original around and age hasn’t diminished the piercing vocals of Francis.

As always it’s a lengthy set and it does include the crowd pleasing ‘classics’. “Wave Of Mutilation”, “Monkey Gone To Heaven”, “Velouria”, “Where Is My Mind”. In fact 23 of the whopping 39 song set were released 1990 or before. How’s that for “old ones”? Yes, they play all 12 songs from ‘Beneath The Eyrie’ and why not? It’s a great album. A little mellower in places than old school Pixies but ‘St. Nazaire’ is as angry, loud and punk as anything they’ve ever done.

No banter, no messing, a couple of mis-starts, just great songs hammered out one after the other. After main set of 38 songs ‘Debaser’ is saved for the single song encore. The band finally acknowledge the crowd and then they’re gone.

Pixies are as good now as they ever were.

Words + Pictures by Steve White

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