As far as rock reunions go, that of Boston’s noisy alternative rock outfit Pixies has been a staggered affair. They released four albums – all varying degrees of classic – between 1988 and 1991, were disbanded suddenly via their frontman Frank Black’s fax machine in 1993 and made a live return in 2004. Yet it took them until 2014 to release a new collection of material, the fairly unimpressive EP collection Indie Cindy, and only this year’s reunion album proper Head Carrier has begun to hint at past glories.
Even with bassist and founder member Kim Deal having left three years ago – her replacement is Paz Lenchantin, formerly of A Perfect Circle and Smashing Pumpkins side project Zwan – they’re a fiery, righteous, relentless live act.
Over two hours they packed in more than 30 songs, dispensing with inane between-song banter or gaps of more than a few beats between songs.
They sound great, and unusually textured, from the chiming guitar pop of Here Comes Your Man, Talent and their Neil Young cover Winterlong; to the muscular rock of Tame, Debaser and the Jesus and Mary Chain cover Head On; to the sandblown psychedelic country-rock of Snakes and Cactus.
Black was suited and bespectacled, a 51-year-old geography teacher in appearance, but still a lacerating vocalist who can elicit a hair-tingling response with one shrieked-out lyric.
Alongside him, guitarist Joey Santiago’s playing was riddled with enthusiastic hooks and Lenchantin and drummer Dave Lovering supported with fierce power. To witness them live in a venue as heated and atmospheric as the Barrowland is to emphatically realise just what the point of Pixies is.