Pixies in Manchester: Beyond the promised land

The Pixies

By Desh Kapur, ROCK AT NIGHT Manchester

Venue: O2 Apollo Manchester-September 18, 2019

The Pixies

Iconic and legendary is the only way to describe Boston band Pixies. If youre not familiar with them you will almost definitely be familiar with one of the plethora of bands and artists that state Pixies as a major influence on them musically, such acts as Nirvana, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Blur and Weezer to name just five. 

 Pixies play their own brand of alternative rock which includes influences of punk and surf rock. Formed in 1986 by Frank Black (vocals, rhythm guitar), Joey Santiago (lead guitar) and then with the addition of legendary bass player Kim Deal and drummer David Lovering, the Pixies were born. They split up in 1993 before reforming in 2004; the line-up has pretty much stayed the same except for the exit of Kim Deal 2013 who was eventually replaced with Paz Lenchantin.  

 So here we are in 2019 at the sold out O2 Apollo in Manchester to see them play live over 30 years since their inception, promoting their 7th and newest long player, “Beneath The Eyrie”   

 Check out Rock At Nights review here

The Pixies

 So the stage is set, figuratively speaking, and the band launch into “Debaser” the first song on their 1989 album Doolittle. Pixies songs are famous for their dynamic “loud-quiet” shifts and song structures and their jarring alt rock sound. “Debaser” is a perfect example of the Pixies at their best; quiet and restrained verse and Frank Black aka Black Francis sings his aggressive wailing chorus; great on record, even better live!!! This is followed up by “Wave Of Mutilation”, again off Doolittle then  “Planet Of Sound” and then a real blast from the past, as they launch into “Isla de Encanta from their debut EP, released way back in 1987. By now the air is crackling in the packed O2. The crowd are beyond the promised land as Black and his band-mates keep cranking out the songs. There is no time for audience interaction as they play track after track. Crackity Jones” is blasted at us before the first track off the new record,St. Nazaire”, is aired and if you think the band has softened on this new record you would be sadly mistaken “Beneath The Eyrie” is the Pixies back doing what they do best.  

The Pixies

All in all I think the Pixies played over 36 songs tonight, and sweat is dripping from the walls and everybody in the venue, including the band. “Catfish Kate”, Los Surfers Muertos”, Graveyard Hill, Monkey Gone To Heaven, Velouria, Silver Bullet, Mr Greaves and at some points it feels like there is no time to breathe. There is even time for a Jesus And The Mary Chain cover in “Head On”, but my personal favourite song of the night is the brilliantly dark and insane, lo fi hi fi “Where is my Mind”, a track which was brought Pixies to a whole new generation through the film “Fight Club” when it was played over the ending; the song choice was just perfect. 

The night came to an end with a one song encore and that was that. Everyone was buzzing; I’m sure nobody could sleep for hours after! Pixies are iconic and as I said in the beginning of this review their influence on modern Alt rock is second to none, but I think it is best summed up by a quote from Gary Smith, who produced their Come on Pilgrim album, when he commented “I’ve heard it said about The Velvet Underground, that while not a lot of people bought their albums, everyone who did started a band. I think this is true about the Pixies as well” 



Where is My Mind  


Catfish Kate