Pixies and GoldfrappEdit this event
Having joyfully missed garage rock fadsters 22 20s and northern roar-ups, The Stands, we begin the day by pondering firstly, who Tim Booth is, and why he’s here. When the odd heckle calling for him to play ‘Sit Down’ arrives, it all falls into place. But the erstwhile James frontman seems ill intent on any crowd pleasing antics, although we draw much amusement from his spastic-on-fire dancing and constant complaining about his on-stage sound. Looking like a cross between Michael Stipe and Ming The Merciless, it truly is indie of the most positively dull proportions. Surely he’d play these new songs back to back with the many James classics and realise this himself? Maybe if he spent less time cultivating the beard…
Goldfrapp keeps her beard under wraps, but pretty much everything else is out on display (as our photogallery shows). Still, if Alison’s getting a bit chilly waving her arse around she hides it well, as her warm beats and gliding coffee table synth action warms us up like Bovril at a cricket match. It may lack the pulse of her earlier collaborations with Orbital or the gentle songcraft of Dido, but Goldfrapp’s chunky, fleshy presence and extraordinarily beautiful voice mark out a nice chill out zone ahead of the impending mayhem.
What follows next is a fuzzed-up, lyncathrope-vocalled, muscle-basslined, geetarbastarded blur of release. Insane and inappropriate and damned sheer bodymashing, brainkinetic joy.
The thing is, you’re not meant to let bands get away with coming back for a payday after having split in acrimony. You’re not meant to allow the myth to grow whilst you sit on your flabby butterass through years of reissues, rewowkings, rewirings of a style and an energy and a magic relatively underground and before its time; and you ain’t sposed to surf-spanish-scrapemusik your way back into the frontal lobe of 8,000 punters gathered in Manchester with quite as much power and poise as this.
These days, the Pixies are namechecked almost as much as the Velvet Underground as an influence on a stack of bands and kids, but in the case of the Boston quartet, the comeback has been viral, vital, visceral. Every song a laser, and Kim’s wobbles have not diminished the curt cutesiness of her vocal, the crispness of the bassline, Black Francis still lets out those yelps and shrieks like the unearthly prophet of fuck he always has been; Joey Santiago’s whistling, feral six-string spunk is a mesh of blues and brine. Caribou, Monkey Gone To Heaven, the fuggin lot.
We never thought we’d see the day, I mean, REALLY didn’t believe we’d see the day we could watch The Pixies doin’ it for themselves. And they REALLY ARE DOIN IT. So forgive us this indulgence, but sometimes music and the moment can smash the clocks aside with a swathing, sneering, snarling, hi-volatile powerage of perfection. And though it wasn’t a sweaty, raw club in the middle of nowhere, somehow it feels like we’re jammed into some cavernous, piss-walled dive watching live music for the first time in our lives.
The goddamn Pixies. Damnit.
And with the Stereophonics comes the wash of northern rain, and dripping anti-climax of blandness for the several thousand people that didn’t storm troop towards the exits at the end of the Pixies' set. (Not since the mines closed have so many working class people run for the hills!) But, and this is a bit BUT, some of it’s actually pretty good.
Like when Stereophonics USED to rock.
Before Rod Stewart covers, before leather jackets, before extra guitarists and keyboards and before Tracy the receptionist drummer got sacked. Stuart Cable, RIP.
We mean, of course, the likes of ‘Bartender And The Thief’, a red flag to an exploding bull, it still charges with epileptic intensity, and ‘More Life In A Tramp’s Vest’. Small town rock, gone big. The Stereophonics didn’t hog the front cover of the ‘Maker each week pumping out shite like ‘Have A Nice Day’, although we must admit a bit of brave partiality to the acoustic serenity of ‘Step On My Old Size Nines’.
Sadly, for every glimmer of Word Gets Around and every sparkle of the raw 1996 edge that gave the Stereophonics their claws, we have the hair-extension plumber rock of ‘Moviestar’. Puny, dull and tuneless it doesn’t stand up to ‘Local Boy In The Photograph’, but sadly, no one seems to care, except us, so we do the decent thing and leave Kelly Jones and friends in peace. They obviously amuse themselves pretty well.
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