LIVE REVIEW: The Pixies at Camden Roundhouse, London

LIVE REVIEW: The Pixies at Camden Roundhouse Credit: Denise Esposito
Credit: Denise Esposito

It is hard to believe that The Pixies formed almost 40 years ago. Despite releasing four albums and enjoying huge success, it looked as if the band would not last a decade when frontman Black Francis disbanded The Pixies in 1993. The reasons given remain opaque but it looks like the frontman wanted to turn things around which he did by renaming himself, Frank Black.

LIVE REVIEW: The Pixies at Camden Roundhouse Credit: Denise Esposito
Credit: Denise Esposito

Nonetheless, Francis embarked on some interesting projects including writing the soundtrack to the 1920 silent film The Golem: How He Came into the World based on Gustav Meyrink’s 1915 novel The Golem which itself is about a creature created from clay rooted in Jewish folklore. Whether it was the magic of the Golem, the spark of The Pixies has kept fans interested. Their latest, eighth 2022 LP Doggerel entered the top 20 on the US Billboard.

LIVE REVIEW: The Pixies at Camden Roundhouse Credit: Denise Esposito
Credit: Denise Esposito

Support came from the Manchester-based Slow Readers Club who have constructed their electro-rock sound via The Killers, White Lies and Editors influences that were well received at the Roundhouse.

One thing that was evident about The Pixies when they graced the stage was how understated in appearance the four-piece was. Black Francis, devoid of gimmicks and makeup wore a plain black t-shirt and blue jeans. The lighting was rudimentary without visuals. However as soon as the band opened with “Gouge Away”, the crowd went crazy and mass mosh pits formed. Furthermore, with Black now in his late fifties, his confidence and ability to master songs commanding a strong vocal growl showed there was no struggle or concerns regarding capacity or stamina. Both band and crowd energy continued to jump as the band then played “Hey”.

LIVE REVIEW: The Pixies at Camden Roundhouse Credit: Denise Esposito
Credit: Denise Esposito

Nirvana influences, well actually the Pixies’ influences on Nirvana were most potent on “There’s A Moon On” from Doggerel which was reminiscent of the Pixies’ material from Doolittle. “U-Mass” which references both capitalism and communism also has a rawness that would have influenced Nirvana. Overall The Pixies not only perfected their songs, but they also drew upon the youthful nervous team energy that was at its most potent in the late eighties and early nineties. Furthermore, Paz Lenchantin’s vocals and harmonies with Francis created happy positive vibes, which were most visible in songs such as “Here Comes My Man”. Antithetically, the heaviest song that created the most physical crowd activity was the all-Spanish lyrical “Isla de Encanta.”

LIVE REVIEW: The Pixies at Camden Roundhouse Credit: Denise Esposito
Credit: Denise Esposito

The Pixies chose the perfect song to play out “Where Is My Mind?”. Whilst the two-hour set with no encore consistently maintained momentum demonstrating some of the best of The Pixies past and present, there was a hint of bitterness amongst fans that “Gigantic” and “Monkey Gone To Heaven” didn’t make the setlist on this second London date. Sadly this disappointment overshadowed the excellent performances which were enjoyed from a broad cross-section of hits.

LIVE REVIEW: The Pixies at Camden Roundhouse Credit: Denise Esposito
Credit: Denise Esposito

SETLIST
Gouge Away
Wave of Mutilation
U-Mass
Head On (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover)
Isla de Encanta
River Euphrates
Human Crime
Nomatterday
Planet of Sound
Vault of Heaven
Pagan Man
Break My Body
Blown Away
Ana
Death Horizon
All the Saints
Here Comes Your Man
Motorway to Roswell
There’s a Moon On
The Lord Has Come Back Today
Thunder and Lightning
Haunted House
Who’s More Sorry Now?
Get Simulated
Dregs of the Wine
Caribou
I’ve Been Tired
Tame
Doggerel
Hey
Mr. Grieves
Debaser
Vamos
Brick Is Red
Bone Machine
Wave of Mutilation (UK surf)
Where Is My Mind?
Winterlong (Neil Young cover)

 

Xsnoize Author
Michael Barron 342 Articles
Michael first began writing whilst studying at university; reviewing the latest releases and live gigs. He has since contributed to the Fortean Times as well as other publications. Michael’s musical tastes vary from Indie to psychedelic, folk and dubstep.

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