Pixies at iTunes Festival
As cool as Kim Deal
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Poor old Billy Corgan. He tried his bloody hardest to make that Smashing Pumpkins reunion work, but without originals like Darcy, James and even Melissa, it just wasn't the same. It's somewhat anxiously, then, that we take a break from Cher's corking new album and head down to Camden's Roundhouse for Pixies' appearance as part of this year's phenomenal iTunes Festival line-up.
You see, this is the iconic alt-rock legends' first gig in the UK since the departure of bassist Kim Deal. AKA - The Coolest Woman in Rock and Roll Ever. So alluring, The Dandy Warhols wrote a song about her undeniable magnetism. Kim had that unspoken quality which helped turn stars into legends - and we can't help but worry that Frank Black and co are going to be confined to the same pages of the rock history books as the Pumpkins. Real masters of their craft who once had it, but let it all fall apart.
Turns out we had nothing to worry about. Pixies, now joined by a replacement Kim - Shattuck from The Muffs - have all the bile, swagger and escapist venom they had back in the 90s when they were pioneers of America's thriving grunge scene. From boxcars to bone machines to monkeys gone to heaven, the band's surrealist surf-rock enthused Americana has developed into a timeless brand, which means new material like recent free download Indie Cindy sounds like it could've been found on any of the band's phenomenal studio albums - despite the unfortunate-sounding title.
But still, despite the new-found invigoration Pixies now seem to have, we can't help but feel there's a secret ingredient missing. When Kim Deal and Frank Black shared a stage, there was a dangerous volatility where you never knew what was going to happen. One minute they could be sharing duelling vocals on Gigantic, the next they could be cracking guitar necks over each other's heads.
Speaking of Gigantic - its absence from tonight's setlist is noticeable and, well, questionable. Same with Debaser. Two of the band's most memorable tracks left out, and the obvious fan favourite Where Is My Mind thrown away in the first few songs, is either a stubborn refusal to acknowledge the bands past with old-Kim, or an overwhelming gesture of confidence in new- Kim. Either way, take note Billy Corgan. This is how it's done.
Photo courtesy of iTunes Festival 2013