As hype goes, this gig was up there with the best of them. Long awaited reunion tour, ten years out of the game, and to cap it all they were playing the Academy, which by now was my local venue, as I was living in Vauxhall. As I waited on South Lambeth Road for a number 2 bus to come past, the Pixies’ black behemoth of a tourbus wooshed past on its way to the venue, the legendary Boston indie pioneers just a few feet away on the other side of the tinted glass. I waved my Travelcard frantically at the driver, but he was stopping for nobody.
Tickets for this show were immensely hard to come by, and only just managed to get them, for the second show, the first one selling out in about 12 seconds. It was 14 years since the last time I had seen them, and to say I was excited about it was something of an understatement. I would have sold my grandmother’s kidney to get in. There was a real buzz in the Academy, which the turgidly soporific Badly Drawn Boy failed to kill – nobody was really interested in what he had to say, and a couple of trips to the bar later, he was gone. Huzzah! Let’s be having you, Pixies. How annoyingly pretentious The Pixies are, calling themselves just ‘Pixies’ with no ‘the’. It makes it awkward to say, awkward to write, and very difficult to resist the temptation to slap some smug indie git upside the head for pointing out that fact when you accidentally include the ‘the’.
Anyway, to rapturous, nay thunderous applause, on came THE Pixies and cranked
right into ‘Debaser’. Hang on though? Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. This won’t do. Appalling sound, even for the Academy. Really disappointing in fact. It was just a wash of noise, and because the place was rammed to bursting, it was difficult to get any closer than we were (halfway back halfway to the side). So, the most hotly anticipated gig in years was a distinct let-down, purely due to the inept sound man. Nevertheless, they were bloody entertaining, only having back-catalogue stuff to do, so there was no fear of them launching into new stuff. And all the hits were there – ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’, ‘Gigantic’, ‘Here Comes Your Man’ etc but unfortunately no sign of my favourite Pixies song, The Jesus And Mary Chain’s ‘Head On’ from Trompe. A decent enough show, but it was a victim of its own hype – almost impossible to live up to.
Footnote: I heard an official bootleg (i.e. a feed off the desk, not a mic) of the gig a few weeks later and they sounded pretty muddy on that, so I’m guessing it wasn’t just down to the atrocious Academey acoustics or the ham-fisted sound man, it could just be that they’re not very good any more…