Boy was I losing my mind. Australia’s batsmen were collapsing in India, a golden ale at PJ’s set me back $11, and grunge rock royalty the Pixies were about to play for me.
The latter mind blowing mention was a saving grace, and one of the sweetest in recent history.
It was a mix-bag audience if I’d ever seen one that lined up at the Hordern, with 50-somethings having teens on one side and middle age admirers on their other. Yet the oldies weren’t going to be outpaced when the doors opened. Like the bulls in Pamplona they exploded out of the gates and wrapped themselves around the front barricade – the Pixies were their band.
I watched from a few rows back as limbs again flew like tentacles to gain the best vantage spot for The Murlocs who were about to surprise the unaware folk. As far as support slots go, this was wicked. With members of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard scattered throughout their line-up, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were about to let loose. But The Murlocs’ tracks have more structure, yet without any sacrifice of explosiveness.
Frontman Ambrose has an ol’ country swagger to his voice that’s supported by twangy riffs and his addictive harmonica outros (play it more son!). Their album Young Blindness is a must listen, particularly the track ‘Rolling On’ which stood out in the live setting.
On cue at exactly 8:45, the familiar four piece strutted on stage just like they’d done a million times before. With a green ominous light scarcely making them visible, they ripped into oldie and goodie, ‘Gouge Away’. Francis Black’s vocals coupled with the haunting bass line made for a ghostly opening that built and exploded with the screamy chorus.
The setlist slithered between classics and new tracks, but it was always going to be the older songs that brought on the hysteria. ‘Debaser’ was next up with again the bass taking centre stage – a signature Pixies go-to.
After an abrupt ending and the lights going out, the crowd were dead silent before a massive “HEY!” rolled over us all like a tidal wave. “Been trying to meet you!”. The Doolittle track received one of the best receptions of them all, with guitarist Joey Santiago making one of the crispiest ever riffs seem effortless.
Just when you thought the hype couldn’t grow, ‘Where Is My Mind’ kicked off, making this the gig that kept on giving. In a bit of beautiful irony, it was there I found my mind, after losing it watching Australia’s batting display. I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world (definitely not India).
It’s a track they must have played over a thousand times now, but they delivered it as if it was as fresh and important as ever. If we’d have been sitting they would’ve been given a standing ovation. And as far as singalongs go, you can pretty much give it the number one spot for at least the next few generations.
It’s clear to see why the Pixies transcend genres. Their volume, rhythm and even language would change with every song. It’s hard to find a popular garage group that don’t list the Bostonian’s as an influence, and it’s easy to see why.
Thank the heavens for the Pixies.
Photography by Josh Groom