Pixies are a band like no other – they personify alternative culture with an air of utmost cool and with the sheer amount of music that Pixies have directly inspired, we can credit them with shaping much of today’s “alt” music. No surprise then, that Manchester welcomed the Boston band with open arms in a celebration of counter-culture.
Pixies took to the stage at 9am sharp, following exemplary supporting shows from Amsterdam’s Klangstof and hometown heroes Slow Readers Club the Castlefield Bowl was at capacity. Frank Black strode on stage exuding cool, before launching into a 30 song setlist, with barely a breath in-between songs.
The band themselves are incredibly tight as a live unit- they barely stop for breath between songs, let alone pleasantries with the crowd, with the aim of cramming as many hits into their Manchester show as possible. Often tracks bled into each other, with a career-spanning and hit-packed show whipping the Castlefield crowd into a frenzy: lines of bouncing fans and periodical circle pits were prevalent throughout, as Manchester welcomed Pixies as if they hailed from the streets of Salford themselves.
Each track the band tore into gave a glimpse into a different part of the band’s career: everything from ‘Come on Pilgrim’, ‘Debaser’, ‘Doolittle’ and even some cuts form the band’s latest record Doggerel, set for release in September. Every cut from the band’s impressive back catalogue was met with raptures from the crowd – from indie anthems to swaggering, gigantic rock n roll tunes, Pixies put on one hell of a show. A real highlight was witnessing guitarist Joey Santiago beat the living shit out of his guitar-strings with his hat, causing the instrument to wail and howl in a fuzzy revelry beneath the Mancunion night sky.
Of course, the hits got the crowd going: ‘Gigantic’, ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’, ‘Debaser’ and ‘Here Comes Your Man’ were all met with a monumental singalong. The most wonderful aspect of this live show was witnessing the true staying power of Pixie’s tunes: the cool alt-kids who grew up with Pixies were here with their children, and an eclectic mix of old and new is true evidence of Pixie’s talent.
The group are one of few bands that has transcended the cynicism of the music industry: Pixies have achieved legendary cult status, influencing more bands than I could possibly count. They’re a group with the cultural chops and musical influence of Velvet Underground, and to see them live is nothing short of an honour.
feature image: Travis Shinn