Pixies, London Roundhouse

It’s just as well the Pixies are an astonishing live band. Knowing that their patience will be greatly rewarded is all that’s keeping this audience from rioting.

Whoever thought it was a good idea to start these gigs (this is the fourth of five nights in a row at the Roundhouse) with a 30-minute video dissecting the Come On Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa cover artwork should get a fucking grip.

There are few Pixies fans as fanatical as me, and I was bored shitless within five minutes. Around 15 minutes into the video, shouts of “fucking get on with it” are cutting through the night. But no dice, we were forced to view the entire boring spectacle of some (lovely, I’m sure) Northern English chap talking about the sleeve art. Shit, even he sounded bored.

This video should be a DVD extra, at best.

With the disquiet in the crowd growing, it mercifully comes to an end and the band take the stage to a reception that sounds more like a gathering of starving, shipwrecked motherfuckers being saved from a remote island than a bunch of people welcoming a band.

Celebrating debut EP Come On Pilgrim and the album Surfer Rosa, the setlist follows the records’ tracklist exactly. Caribou is as unlikely a set opener as there is, yet we are all so desperate for the music that the place is in fucking raptures from the first note.

And the band, as ever, are utterly flawless. Not known for their audience engagement, the Pixies stick to their tried and tested method of bashing through the songs, barely drawing breath from one track to the next.

The Roundhouse is a most stunning venue and the audience is a predictable blend of original, older fans and younger cats who’ve worked out that every band they’ve ever loved had a hard-on for Black Francis and co. That makes for a bouncy, lively bunch down the front and a generally laid back majority elsewhere.

A three-song encore does little to satisfy those who came here hoping to hear more from Doolittle and later albums, with Tame and U-Mass cranking up the volume and the fervour. Recent single Um Chagga Lagga sounds gorgeous and the band clearly love playing it.

I might have imagined it, but I’m almost certain they played Vamos twice. Sure, it appears on Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa – but that strikes as yet another silly decision. Not quite as much of a head-scratcher as that video bullshit though.

When all’s said and done, this is another brilliant performance from arguably the greatest and most influential alternative rock band of all time – performing one of the most important albums ever recorded. An unforgettable experience.

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