With its rich musical history, the Roundhouse is the perfect place for the Pixies to showcase their new material from the latest album, Doggerel, and delve into their vast back catalogue for not one but two nights at the iconic venue. The Pixies kicked off the European leg of their 2023 tour in Stockholm, Sweden, and now it’s London’s turn to experience the magic.
Manchester’s The Slow Readers Club takes the stage first, following the release of their new album, KNOWLEDGE FREEDOM POWER. They open with “Modernise” from their latest album, introducing the audience to their unique sound, reminiscent of Interpol and The Editors.
Throughout their seven-song set, the band delves into their dark wave electronica style. Tracks like “All I Hear”, “You Opened Up My Heart”, and “I Saw A Ghost” resonates with the audience, gradually winning over the initially partisan crowd. The performance culminates with “Lunatic”, featuring an atmospheric synth intro that paves the way for the rest of the band. Aaron Starkie’s distinct and emotive vocals leave a lasting impression, getting the crowd nicely warmed up for the main event.
At 9pm, The Pixies arrive under the serene orange glow of the stage lights, and after a few waves from the band, we are straight into a run of “Cactus”, “The Holiday Song”, and “All the Saints”, which would mark the start of a mind-blowing 37 song set covering their career to date. The lineup has been solid for the past 10 years Black Francis on rhythm guitar and vocals, Joey Santiago on lead guitar, David Lovering on drums and Paz Lenchantin on bass. The Pixies sound has aged well, with the songs feeling as fresh and exciting as they did in the late Eighties when Come on Pilgrim first took a spin on my clapped-out charity shop turntable. The songs are short, sweet and punchy, and fans of their early work get generous servings from that first mini-LP, Surfer Rosa and Doolittle. These old favourites cosied up alongside new titles like the howling lupin call of “There’s a Moon On”, “Haunted House,” and the title track of the new album “Doggerel.” Black Francis alternates between acoustic and electric guitars, matching the intensity of each song and in true Pixies fashion, the band let their music do the talking, keeping the verbal interaction to a minimum. Understated lighting complements the music, with soft pinks, greens, and blues casting a moody ambience while darting white spots sweep the crowd during energetic bursts. The light show supports, allowing the band to shine.
Highlights are many, but the ferocious energy of “Gouge Away” had the entire crowd bouncing early on, while the enchanting “Hey” and surf-pop delight of “Here Comes Your Man” plastered huge smiles on faces all around. The band captivated the audience with a blend of classics and new tracks, delivering a more than memorable performance. Timeless classics like “Mr Grieves,” “Debaser,” “Bone Machine,” and “Where Is My Mind?” keep the energy buzzing, and the Neil Young cover “Winterlong” brings the incredible 2-hour set to a close.
Having missed The Pixies in their original heyday, always wrong place, the wrong time, I finally got to witness them live at their reunion years later at Brixton Academy in 2004. Tonight’s performance far surpassed the memory of that show and rekindled a somewhat dormant love for the band. The Pixies delivered in spades, seamlessly weaving together the old and new tracks to create an unforgettable experience for everyone here tonight.
Photos and Words by Cris Watkins