BREVIEW: Pixies @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 16.09.19

Words by Abi Whistance / Pics by Phil Drury (2324 Photography)

Pixies have made it pretty clear in recent years that, frankly, they’re getting a little too worn out for the yelps, shrieks and piercing guitars of their adolescence. Settling nicely into Frank Black’s country grooves the band have mellowed in their releases, Beneath the Eyrie being no exception.

It was difficult to know what to expect with a world tour of their latest album; the worry that I’d gotten my hopes up for a surprise appearance of ‘I’ve Been Tired’ or ‘Nimrod’s Son’ was almost debilitating. With such a cult-like fanbase it would have been impossible to fulfil the wishes of every unshakable Trompe Le Monde buff on site, with at least a handful of the crowd crying for a rendition of ‘that B-side they did once that only exists by word of mouth’ or a 1988 debuted cover of ‘a classic’.

Yet as time went by and their arrival onto the O2 Academy’s stage crept closer, I couldn’t help but feel that high hopes weren’t going to be unwarranted.

Erupting into ‘Gouge Away’, I knew then my gut had pointed me in the right direction. Pixies weren’t here to tiptoe; this was floorboard-rattling, neighbour-waking material that pleased all the right people and pissed all the wrong ones off. A set peppered with phenomenal renditions of fan favourites made it nearly impossible to go without for more than a few minutes, even the pickiest were brought to a grinding halt when the likes of ‘Here Comes Your Man’ and ‘Planet of Sound’ were plucked from the hat.

The new album provided a breather in the set; thrashing and flaying ensued during the haphazardly selected relics of Come on Pilgrim and Doolittle, the latest ‘Silver Bullet’ and ‘Ready for Love’ alternatively offering a brief moment of reflection. Not just because they lack excitement, which undeniably they do, but also because we’re yet to warm to them.

Still, there’s no better way to fall in love than face to face, and Pixies are aiming for nothing less than head over heels with Beneath the Eyrie on tour. Snatching hearts one by one, Francis is leaving no survivors this lap of the globe.

Pixies – with support from The Big Moon @ 02 Academy (B’ham) 16.09.19 / Phil Drury (2324 Photography)

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For more on Pixies, visit www.pixiesmusic.com   
For more on The Big Moon, visit www.thebigmoon.co.uk

For more on the O2 Academy Birmingham, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham

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NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

ALBUM: Beneath the Eyrie – Pixies 13.09.19

Words by Abi Whistance

It feels necessary for this review to come with a cover letter of sorts. When it comes to Pixies, I’m a diehard. In my eyes, Francis can do no wrong.

Yet, on receiving a copy of new album Beneath the Eyrie, I knew I needed to put my Surfer Rosa loving, Trompe Le Monde abiding ways behind me. So, this is it – welcome, not to a shrine, but to a review.

I’ve never heard anyone say their favourite album by Pixies is Indie Cindy, and if they did I’d hurtle a copy of anything else in their discography at them and declare them criminally insane. What made, and continues to make, Pixies so goddamn great is their unadulterated strangeness, rage and ability to make you sick to your stomach.

In the same way Indie Cindy is good but lacking in the musto-gusto, Beneath the Eyrie just ain’t their best. It’s passive in parts, lacking the otherworldly force you know exists but can’t quite put your finger on, and kind of pussyfoots its way through twelve tracks. For Pixies, a vast chunk of this album is unremarkable; a strong start dwindles away into records that play it safe, occasionally throwing a much needed wild-card in there to grab your attention again as the mind wanders.

Yet there are still some real gems to find on here. Album opener, ‘In the Arms of Mrs. Mark of Cain’, makes for one of the best on the record – setting the tone for a surprisingly consistent forty minute ride of more subdued Pixies material. Standard biblical omens and a strong riff are all they need to get my attention, and in the first few minutes I’m feeling satisfied. Promotional single, ‘On Graveyard Hill’ features our beloved screeches and howls from Francis himself – no doubt as a demonstration that hey, the kid’s still got it and he’s not afraid to let us have it.

We then slip into the mediocre, which makes it even more infuriating when they throw a kicker in the mix with ‘St. Nazaire’. One of the best modern Pixies tracks to date, it feels wasted on an album that for the most part doesn’t deserve to possess such a, for want of a better word, kick-ass track. The musical lull perishes and suddenly there’s fire here; this is exactly what I wanted from the whole album and failed to get from pretty much anything else on it.

Nevertheless, it must be noted that what Beneath the Eyrie lacks in strength it regains in its storytelling ability. It seems to me that a choice has arisen with this record, a choice between weaving fiction and sounding mighty had splayed itself on the table, and for most tracks Pixies have sacrificed the power for the fable. The carefully fashioned imagery of ‘Catfish Kate’ and ‘Silver Bullet’ stand as a reminder of that, crafting complex stories that can sway you to forget what it is they’re missing.

So, do I like it? Of course I do, and so will everyone else. It’s great. It’s fantastic, even. But does it give me the fuck yeah feeling I was gifted with Trompe Le Monde, or even Head Carrier? No.

There’s nothing wrong with this record just being good. With a back catalogue as strong as that of Pixies, there’s no harm in dropping a, let’s say, ‘filler-not-killer’ into the mix. Three years ago, Head Carrier threw us right back to the band at their finest hour; tracks like ‘Baal’s Back’ and ‘Um Chagga Lagga’ quelling all doubts that they’d ripened and gone soft.

Maybe if Beneath the Eyrie wasn’t preceded by such a formidable force of an album I’d be concerned, but instead this feels like the calm after the storm.

‘On Graveyard Hill’ – Pixies

Pixies release Beneath the Eyrie on Friday 13th September, out on Infection/BMG and available through all the usual online outlets. For more on Pixies, including links to online sales, visit www.pixiesmusic.com

Pixies will also be performing at the O2 Academy Birmingham on Monday 16th September – for more direct gig information, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

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NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

BPREVIEW: Dead! @ The Flapper 31.01.18

Dead! @ The Flapper 31.01.18

Words by Aatish Ramchurn

As part of their The Golden Age Live tour, Dead! will be playing at The Flapper on Wednesday 31st January. Main support for the night (and most of the tour) comes from London punk trio, Kenneths – with Birmingham based bands, A Promise to Forget and Blank Parody also playing at The Flapper.

Tickets are priced at £8 (adv) plus booking fee, as presented by Surprise You’re Dead! Music. Doors open at The Flapper from 7pm. For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

London rock band, Dead!, are no strangers to Birmingham’s music scene, having previously played at Alfie Birds, Scruffy Murphy’s, Subside, and the O2 Institute where they recently supported Deaf Havana. Wednesday 31st January will see them tick off The Flapper from the list of stages they have played in Birmingham, bringing the threatened music venue their own flavour of the punk and indie sound.

Touring the UK relentlessly since 2012, band members Alex Mountford, Sam Matlock, Louis Matlock, and Sam Chappell all met in Southampton, initially booking local shows themselves. But as Dead! began reaching a wider audience, playing shows up and down the UK, their excessive touring schedule eventually paid off and their popularity rose.

Having signed to Infectious Music/BMG and Rise Records in the USA, not bad for a band who have been described as ‘everything that’s wrong with art’, Dead! are kicking off the New Year with another mammoth tour of the UK – on the road promoting their recently released debut album, The Golden Age of Not Even Trying.

Indeed, 2018 could be a great year for Dead! as they reach out to new audiences whilst reacquainting themselves with older ones. Especially as they’ve been tipped by Kerrang! Magazine as one of their Hottest Bands of 2018.

‘The Golden Age of Not Even Trying’ – Dead!

For more on Dead! visit www.theinternetisdead.co.uk

For more on Kenneths, visit www.musicglue.com/kenneths

For more on A Promise to Forget, visit www.facebook.com/apromisetoforget

For more on Blank Parody, visit www.blankparody.com

For more on The Flapper, visit www.theflapper.co.uk

For more on Surprise You’re Dead! Music, visit www.surpriseyouredeadmusic.co.uk