20 years ago, the world changed. It seemed that huge global shirts were taking place on an almost daily basis, with 1989 seeing the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tienanmen Square massacre and the release of Rob Lowe's sex-tape. And it was into this maelstrom of world events that the Pixies brought into being their finest album, Doolittle.
The Pixies arrived at Brixton's O2 Academy last night to begin a sold-out 4-night residency to play the album (and its B-sides) in its entirety. Despite the jarring ads urging fans to purchase memorabilia that formed part of the backdrop to the stage, a wave of adulation greeted the band as they emerged from back stage.
The Pixies tour but rarely, and when playing most fans find themselves analysing the rapport between Frank Black and Kim Deal when on stage. The rift between the lead singer and the bassist led to the break-up of the band, but tonight there is no indication of conflict between them. The contrast between Frank's trademark hollering and Kim's vulnerable sweet voice should be disconcerting live, but the contrast works, with Kim smiling like a school-girl when the audience roars its approval of her singing.
Despite the age of the album, Kim's glee at being back on stage is unmistakeable, and the band roll back the years and play song after song with the same energy that they first brought to the recording studio. They clearly relish playing in front of an adoring crowd, and give an impromptu encore of some of their better-known songs from other albums to reward the audience for its devotion. Joey Santiago on guitar has a restrained presence and gives Frank the space to do his thing, while David Lovering's performance on drums is a master-class on how to keep a band together.
Gigs like these can sometimes disappoint fans. When a band only tours occasionally, and then decide to play only one album, fans can feel short-changed. While there were murmurs of discontent amongst some of the audience about songs omitted from the playlist, hearing an album live that Kurt Cobain cited as one of his major influences is an experience not soon to be forgotten. For those in the crowd who purchased the album on tape, and for those who downloaded the songs off the Internet, it was, in the words of U-Mass, educational.
By Paul Carr