Friday 20 April 2018

Heaven is... my own private pixies rehearsal gig

Poppiness: Black Francis of the 1980s American rock band the Pixies
Poppiness: Black Francis of the 1980s American rock band the Pixies

IT never ceases to amuse me when people who, in all fairness, probably shouldn't know any better, deride the 1980s as a "terrible time for music". Right so, that would be the decade that gave us Dexys, ABC, The Smiths, REM, the Go-Betweens, Echo & the Bunnymen, Human League, Teenage Fanclub, the Blue Nile, the Replacements, Something Happens, the Stars of Heaven, Pet Shop Boys, New Order, Aztec Camera and, given the week that's in it, U2. God, they were tough times alright. Oh, and then there happened to be the Pixies.

Weirdness

In fairness, when the Boston quartet first emerged, I wasn't fully sold on what I heard. Perhaps put off by the florid prose of their apostles in the music press – there was quite a lot of "the sound of ancient chandeliers crashing on to marble cathedral floors" going on back then, so you could hardly blame me – I didn't quite grasp the genuine weirdness and, at the same time, poppiness of what Charles Thompson IV, Joey Santiago, Kim Deal and David Lovering were at.

Luckily, I came around well before the afternoon in 1990 when I had to travel to Manchester to interview Thompson, a man who had a reputation for being difficult with the press but was a relative sweetheart on the day (charm, I tells ya, works all the time); who, as we wound up proceedings, asked me if I was sticking around for the first full production rehearsal of their Bossanova tour.

Hmm, let's see – it's a wet Wednesday afternoon in Manchester, Hot Press cover story in the bag, the flight home isn't until the Thursday morning and I'm offered the chance to see the Pixies in the company of their producer, Gil Norton, in an empty theatre with a stack of beers to hand. That was a hard call, and no mistake.

When rock-hack monkeys go to heaven, they can but dream it'll be like that wet Wednesday beneath the Pennines. And the afters were even better.

Pixies play the Olympia this Monday and Tuesday

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