The internet suffered a minor meltdown on morning of 18th July, as the news dropped that next day, Boston’s finest noise merchants would be playing a show at the iconic Band On The Wall, a newly refurbished 500 capacity venue in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. This, only 2 weeks after having played Castlefield Bowl, as part of the Sounds Of The City run of gigs. Some people claim to have known for weeks, but the reality is it caught most fans cold on a Monday morning. Tickets were snuffled up quicker than pigs on a truffle hunt and desperate pleas for “spares” flooded the event page on Facebook. To be honest, the of prospect of rubbing shoulders with a large sweaty mass, on the evening of what was supposed to be the hottest ever in the UK, did not exactly fill me full of glee, but this is the Pixies we’re talking about! So I’m here for my 50th gig of 2022, like an excited teenager!
Various rumours were doing the rounds about what to expect – a purely acoustic set; the forthcoming album Doggerel in its entirety or just an hour of the “hits”. Truth is nobody was really prepared for what was to come!
Pixies set lists pretty much write themselves these days, virtually guaranteeing the likes of Monkey Gone To Heaven, Nimrod’s Son, Caribou, Bone Machine, Gouge Away and their most played song ever, Wave Of Mutilation (Factoid #1 only one to be played over a 1000 times fact fans!)
Surprise No. 1 – We actually get a full-on electric show, 41 songs crammed into 2 hours, with last single “Human Crime” (a non-album track), and 4 tracks from Doggerel, 3 of which, The Lord Has Come Back Today, Vault of Heaven and Who’s More Sorry Now? making their live debuts alongside There’s A Moon On, plus 36 others, 25 culled from Doolittle, Come On Pilgrim & Surfer Rosa. The only real surprise perhaps is the absence of Where Is My Mind (Factoid #2 – 2nd most ever played live!) and U-Mass, but that would be truly greedy. I suppose us Pixies fans should be grateful that the band don’t enter into any between song banter, all killer no filler indeed. The new songs sound kind of familiar, in a kind of b-side and rarities way. That’s not to denigrate them in any way, but they seem to fit the Pixies blueprint. I’m sure they’ll take on a new dimension once we get the LP in our hot little mitts in September.
Surprise No.2 – The band lope onto stage looking like they’ve just come off the bowls green, dressed head to toe in white, except Frank, bedecked in a black t-shirt. Obviously remembered he was in Manchester as he rounded the ensemble off with a pair of battered black Adidas trainers!
Surprise No.3 – Uncharacteristically they start with Ana, which appears to throw Joey off and they have to begin again!! Frank threw him a couple of sideways glances and could be seen smiling at his partner in crime, after sidling up to him as they slip into Death Horizon, another rarely aired track. This is a band who truly seem to enjoy what they do as the rhythm section of Paz and Dave join the grin fest!!
By third track “Here Comes You Man“, the fans have stopped pinching themselves awake as this is truly not a dream! Friends embrace and smiles are exchanged as collectively we are the luckiest 500 people in the world right now! The whole show was recorded, 9 cameras in all, so we might all get to relive this one day.
Having only seen them a fortnight ago in front of 5000 people, I’m running out of superlatives to cast their way, such was the sonic power of that gig, but in front of a 10th of that number, we still get a stadium sized show. This is the 25th time I’ve seen them since 1988. Paz is a brilliant bass player, and I can honestly say I don’t miss Kim Deal anymore. They are one of the most important rock bands to come out of the US in the last 4 decades and clearly have a love of the UK, which was so instrumental in launching their early career. Frank Black’s solo career has never hit the same heights and he’s just as likely to be treading this same stage, if and when he tours solo again. Tonight we’re just so grateful for being part of a special occasion. It might not be Sex Pistols at The Lesser Free Trade Hall from 1976, but in years to come I bet several thousand more people will claim to have been at Band On The Wall on 19th July 2022!
Oh and Surprise No.4 – the newly installed Air Con system was bloody brilliant, barely broke sweat. Thanks Band On The Wall for giving the punters a stress free experience and free water! And to the guy at the end of two hours, who thought it “bang out of order” there was no encore, after the band had bowed en masse, hand in hand before leaving the stage, get over yourself!
Here Comes Your Man
All the Saints
Brick Is Red
Break My Body
Ed Is Dead
Who’s More Sorry Now? (Live debut)
There’s a Moon On
I’ve Been Tired
Monkey Gone to Heaven
No. 13 Baby
The Lord Has Come Back Today (Live debut)
There Goes My Gun
Wave of Mutilation
Isla de Encanta
Planet of Sound
Vault of Heaven (Live debut)
The Holiday Song