In 2016, Spin magazine posted an article with the headline, ‘Has any great band ever cared less than the Pixies?’, hand-wringing over an “unnervingly low stakes” series of releases after their 2004 comeback. Spin had a point, citing phoned-in lead singles such as 2016’s ‘Um Chagga Lagga’ and ‘Bam Thwok’, which seem criminally slight when up against Wave of Mutilation, Gouge Away, Debaser or any number of early songs that defined a generation.
A few years before that Spin article Black Francis distilled this down in Dublin’s Marlay Park when he walked off stage in a big cloud of pffff when he shrugged and walked off stage 10 minutes early after breaking a string.
But even if Black Francis doesn’t go for heart-hands, stage selfies or ‘We love you Dublin’ vulgarity, you can’t knock their effort in recent shows, with setlists running into a Springsteen-level 37 songs, chosen on the fly and covering all eras, from the iconic albums Doolittle and Surfer Rosa, up to new their new gothic alt-rock LP Beneath the Eyrie.
Pixies have now been on a ‘comeback’ for three times as many years as their original pioneering run, and they’re still shouting it out quiet/loud and clear.
- Pixies play the Ulster Hall in Belfast tonight (Wedneday) and the Olympia Theatre in Dublin tomorrow