Live review: Pixies, The Jezabels at Barrowlands, 22/11/13

Pixies-2013Australian four-piece The Jezabels have achieved success in their home country, their debut album, Prisoner, reached number two in the Aussie charts and won Best Independent Release at the ARIA Awards, but they are relative unknowns here in Glasgow, but two super high profile tour support slots, this and the tour they’ve recently finished with Depeche Mode, have gone a long way to raise this profile.

In fact, they’ve just announced a headline slot at Oran Mor in February, a sure sign of intent; these guys clearly are doing something right, or at least know the right people.

 

As live act the first thing you notice is the set of pipes on vocalist Hayley Mary, her vocal range is nothing short of brilliant, touching on tones befitting of Stevie Nicks at points and the high reaches of Kate Bush at others, all while leaning towards the spontaneously bizarre dance moves of the latter.

Musically the band are diverse in their sound, but like so many contemporaries are dipping into the past for inspiration, there’s touches of disco sprinkled throughout their alternative indie surface and all of this comes with gleaming pop undertones from underneath a dark surface.

The thing that sets The Jezabels apart from their contemporaries is Mary’s vocal talents and many in attendance tonight will stand up take notice, even Black Francis is out in the audience taking in what potentially could be the next big thing.

The return of the Pixies, along with their first new recorded material since 1991’s Trompe le Monde, has come under much skepticism, especially with Kim Deal’s recent departure from the band; Deal has been an every present, not only on bass but providing her vocal talents, on all of the Pixies best previous work and with some not terrible, but rather uninspiring, new material, when compared to previous heights, some feel it may be a case of they’ve left it too long.

But live it’s a different prospect, live they can recreate their glories of old, and the addition of The Muffs and Pandoras guitarist/vocalist Kim Shattuck on bass/backing vocal duties seems a fine one, but considering the plethora of talent that the Barrowlands stage has seen recently they have a lot to live up to.

However, tonight produces one of the most energetic crowds any show by an alt rock band has seen in Glasgow in a while, this is all credit to the Pixies legend, their cult following has only grown since they were at their height in the late 80s and now they’re left with masses singing along to Francis’ every word.

They start off with the UK surf version of Doolittle favourite ‘Wave of Mutilation’ before moving into natural Glasgow favourite, their Jesus and Mary Chain cover, ‘Head On’ and continue on to produce a set designed to woo their bigger fans.

They only occasionally dip into new material in their 30 track set, a good call as the occasions they do cause the ultra energetic audience to lull to an almost static, but when they do they soon return to the more familiar.

Favourites like ‘Hey’, ‘Where Is My Mind?’ and ‘Debaser’ get the fair weather fans involved the foray of the occasion, while a solid selection coming mainly from their three late 80s albums is met favourably by the more seasoned, Come On Pilgrim‘s ‘The Holiday Song’ coming as a particular highlight.

The omission of classic album Doolitttle hits ‘Here Comes Your Man’ and ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’ may come as a bit of a surprise, but as the recognisable numbers come thick and fast it goes by barely noticed by those in attendance.

A slight disappointment is Francis’ non-existent crowd interaction, only a bizarre mime with him, guitarist Joey Santiago and the sound guy about how much time is left and an approach to the mic where he seemingly is to two minds to say something act as teases for a non forthcoming exchange of words though, but the Pixies are about the music and they deliver on all but a minor details.

Shattuck’s backing vocals seem to be way to low in the mix, it’s almost impossible to tell if she can achieve the delightful tones of Deal, supplying a nice compliment to Francis’ howls and snarls; still expect Deal to return at a later date, statements suggest that only Breeders commitments are keeping her away.

Santiago performs a bizarre showpiece towards the end of the set culminating in him having his guitar lead in his mouth playing it like some kind of lethal kazoo, but it’s more of a show than it is of any substance.

Still, all is forgiven as they end on a high with the urgency of Surfer Rosa/Come On Pilgrim track ‘Vamos’ ushering out a set that gives Glasgow a much awaiting dose of Pixies that we hopefully won’t have to wait too long to experience again.

Words: Iain Dawson

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