Music review: Pixies

Frank Black PIC: FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images)
Frank Black PIC: FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images)
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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.

Pixies ****

Barrowland, Glasgow

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.