Music review: Pixies, O2 Academy, Edinburgh

Grimy, relentless and effortlessly tuneful, this was some show from the Pixies, writes David Pollock, packing no fewer than 37 songs into a two-hour set

The Pixies
The Pixies

Pixies, O2 Academy, Edinburgh ****

It's easy to lose track of the sheer relentlessness of a Pixies live show when you're in among it, but online sources confirm the Bostonian rockers did indeed manage to cram 37 songs into their two-hour set in Edinburgh. This was Maximum Pixies… a Now That's What I Call Pixies set which condensed more than 35 years of history into one bullet-sized dose.

Longstanding and devoted fans were clearly thrilled with the whole lot, although even they appeared to drift away somewhat during the mid-set lull. Given that Pixies dig twice as deep into their catalogue as most other live artists, however, it’s perhaps inevitable that they should come up short here and there.

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    The set's beginning was sharp and gratifying, from the opening Levitate Me through Wave of Mutilation's first appearance of the night and the lighter, more melodic All the Saints. On the latter, singer Frank Black, aka Black Francis, and bassist Paz Lenchantin (who became the full-time replacement for the departed Kim Deal six years ago) met in perfect vocal harmony, with her voice also cutting through Gigantic to striking effect later on.

    The lull came after the sludgy, undoubtedly mighty grind of Nimrod’s Son, its Oedipally-themed fusion with The Holiday Song flowing into the discordant Mr Grieves (Black’s typically theatrical yelp of “I hope everything is alright” at the beginning was the closest we got to a greeting) and through to the saccharine, upbeat The Lord Has Come Back Today and the lairy rock ‘n’ roll of There’s a Moon On.

    Then the quartet returned to their grimy, relentless, often effortlessly tuneful best for the run-in, through the bleakness of Gouge Away, Cactus, Human Crime, This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven and the shout-along Hey, past an uproariously-received cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Head On, towards an epic climax of the thunderous Something Against You, Debaser, a slow retread of Wave of Mutilation and Where is My Mind. It was some show, although if they’d cut 30 minutes out of the middle we wouldn’t have noticed.