by / October 1st, 2009 /

Pixies – Olympia Theatre, Dublin

We Irish really are a lucky bunch, despite what the papers would have us believe. The Pixies reform, allowing a new generation to experience their pop-grunge mastery, then decide to celebrate the 20th anniversary of landmark second album Doolittle with a world tour that begins in Dublin, allowing them time to rehearse as well as catching some comedy at the International Bar and bigging up Father Ted.

What makes these three Olympia dates extra special however, is that they are the smallest shows the band will play anywhere on the jaunt. The closest, London’s Brixton Academy, is four-times the capacity of the Dame Street venue. What’s more, all the stage effects, sound-wizardry, film equipment and other fancy doo-dahs are absent for these shows alone, and are awaiting them over in UKland. This is as intimate and stripped down as you will get with the Pixies outside of 1989, and we should feel very, very privileged about that.

Oh yeah, no support either, a wise move, as if to acknowledge that tonight is about no one else. At 9 o’clock sharp, the quartet strolls on to an immaculate stage to a ferocious roar of approval. They haven’t played a note and tonight is already a -dear diary’ occasion. The setlist is the album in its entirety, but Kim Deal, grinning and giggling for the whole night, announces that we’re starting off with a few b-sides, which is good news because there are a couple of computer programmers near us who look like the occasion might be getting the better of them. -Weird At My School’ with its desperado guitar strum is a perfect way for a hugely expectant crowd to get their heads around what is taking place before their eyes.

Everything is perfect. Black Francis’ orange-peeling screams and howls are never skimped on. He’s silhouetted for these opening songs, and his Kurtz-like outline, bobbing gently with Telecaster, is a mental Polaroid that State will recall on its deathbed. Joey Santiago’s sky-scraping guitar outro on -No. 13 Baby’ is like goosebumps exploding. Deal’s rumbling, ego-free basslines and vocal replies are rightly prominent in the mix. One of the biggest cheers, in a night of continual cheers, is reserved for David Lovering’s lead vocal on -La La Love You’.

Francis is a man of few words all night, leaving it to Deal to chuckle out pleasantries to the salivating audience. When -Gouge Away’ has come to an end, he merely waves and smiles from the front of the stage with his bandmates, before ambling off. They return to yet another deafening roar and ease into a slower demo version of -Wave Of Mutilation’. They finish off their encore with one final b-side -Into The White’, the longest tune played here tonight, and one which approaches euphoric territory during its extended outro.

When lauded rock groups reform, the expectations can never be lived up to because some new element or impetus is now present. Squeezing past the grinning sweaty faces, State, now frothing, tries to make sense of how the Pixies had just pissed on those expectations from a height. Was this the night when the exception proved the rule? Quite possibly.

  • Saw them in 2005 and they were terrible, glad to hear these shows are going well. Kind of regret not getting a ticket now 🙁

  • Nice review. Well-written.

    I think the slower Wave Of Mutilation was the ‘UK Surf’ version (b-side to Here Comes Your Man)

  • Pigsey

    The “man of few words” thing is mad, I’d seen Pixies a couple of times before the split and on the reunion dvd it’s the same thing. He barely talks to the crowd at all, barely says “hello”…However at a Frank Black/Catholics gigs, you can’t shut the man up…it’s weird. i really dig his sense of humour so it’s a pity when you don’t get any banter out of him…

  • Barney

    Sounds great – ‘Gauge Away’ should read ‘Gouge Away’.

  • Apologies for the typo – all in the name of getting you the review as quick as possible…

  • Sean Conroy

    Cant. feckin. wait. for. tomorrow.

    Queued up at 4am in Finglas to get these. Was not fun!

  • RSAG didn’t play before them?? 😐

  • Hil

    No, no RSAG on first night, and to be honest it didn’t matter one bit. I’m just back from night #2, and where last night Black Francis said all of two syllables, tonight there was no shutting him up. The set was full of humour and warmth, with Francis and Deal sharing banter duties. Before ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’ he elaborated on how it was the song he played to Kim Deal in her apartment that convinced her to join the band. There was a slight tension. It didn’t affect the performance, but you could tell that there was an edge. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the tour materialises.
    Bananas brilliant, just like last night, but with more communication.

  • sean c

    Great gig last night.

    No talking for Charles himself and when I met him afterwards he was in a hurry to get away to the nearest bar and wouldnt pose for photographs.

    They played ‘Where Is My Mind’ as second encore last night, but by that stage a lot presumed it was over so it was only about 80% full in the standing. Or at least it seemed that way. Nice touch, though.

    Amazing experience.

  • Jeanette

    Fantastic gig.3rd gig the best! Where is my mind as encore for the last night, great touch. Also loved all the B-Sides. Particularly into the white!

    Only dissapointment of the night had nothing to do with the gig itself or the venue but a couple in the crowd. To begin with, they complained about my friend cheering and whistling beside them and then when she refused not to stop cheering her favourite band on, the guy abusively pushed her and went to grab her by the throat. Him being a guy, this this was disgraceful. When was whistling loudly not allowed at the pixies or dancing for that matter? Didn’t pay nearly 100euro for a ticket being a dedicated fan to witness behaviour like this! Whoever you were Shame On You!!

    Disgusted at some peoples behaviour!

  • Hil

    That sounds crappy Jeanette, so sorry for your trouble. The above night had one incident that threatened to put a downer on things for myself and the ladyfriend. We had a bunch of pissed students decide to start slam-dancing right in front of us, barging into my slight-framed girlfriend a few times. I can understand that it’s the Pixies playing, and everyone’s very excited, but slam-dancing should only be reserved for Gallows gigs or Download Festival. At The Drive-In had the right idea about this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsanUlquqME&feature=related .

  • Jeanette

    Thanks for the feedback Hil and the link. He has a point! Sorry for your troubles too. Lets not let it ruin our great memories of the night though.The pixies are legends through and through and those idiots were not really there for the music afterall which was Magic : )

  • Cillian

    I was at the gig on the 30th of September and I have to say they were awesome and I went again on the 2nd of October and they were even better, I could not believe it when they came out for the second encore “Where is my mind” brilliant and they were in great form on the Friday night, all smiles. The only downside of the Friday was that I was in the venue at 7 and I got right up the front in the standing area and shortly before the band came on, 2 guys came into the pit and they were loaded, they were bouncing off people when the band started playing………………but lets not let an excellent night be spoiled by that, please let The Pixies return to this land again.
    Rock with me, Joe.