Having opted out of Reading Festival this year - where the Pixies headlined and would have been pretty much the only reason to go - this gig was a must! That, allied with the fact I'd had one of my worst working days ever, meant I was really up for this one! So we hit the road at 5 and parked up in the palatial grounds of this very grand venue at 7.30. Unfortunately, this meant we had to watch support The Futureheads, after we'd taken a shuttle bus from the car park to the palace on the hill, and gotten in. The 'heads are extremely derivative of the current Wire/XTC jerky New Wave sound, and have no presence or tunes to rub together to make fire! Their best number by far isn't even their own - a cover of Kate Bush's "Hounds Of Love", which they did late on in this poor set.
The place filled up considerably between sets. A grand venue, this; a huge auditorium with an ornate glass roof which made it very hot! So we sweated it out, running into our London friends before the entrance of the Pixies at 9, to dry ice and rapturous cheers.
Finally recognised as the pioneers of US alt-rock that they are, the now-reformed Pixies are finally reaping the financial rewards with the big big gigs (this one of course following their Reading headline slot). You could excuse them for going into cruise-and-collect mode, and certainly the opening part of the set was restrained and low-key, easing themselves in with slower numbers from their canon of work (an eerie "Where Is My Mind" a highlight here), as if they were paying reverence to their material. Even an early "Vamos", with Joey extracting squally riffs from his guitar with the aid of a drumstick, seemed less manic than of yore.
However, following a spooky "Into The White", and a strident, bellowed "Ed Is Dead" (my favourite Pixies song!) the set really took off as the band loosened up and let fly. The bass-heavy, massive "Planet Of Sound" followed, really bringing the noise, and by an awesome "Tame", vocalist Frank Black (or should that be Black Francis, given he's back in the Pixies?) was roaring like the angered behemoth of old. The inevitable "Monkey Gone To Heaven" (which Rachel had been jonesing for throughout the set) followed a frantic interlude, and by "Debaser", still the snarling cornerstone of indie discos everywhere, we were enthralled, caught in the power of this harsh, sleazy, noisy yet strangely uplifting rock.
The 1 hour 15 minute set seemed over far too soon, and Kim Deal was then persuaded to perform "Gigantic", the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" quiet/loud template number which ended the set, all 4 band members then wishing each other goodnight before basking in the deserved adulation of a job bloody well done, and money well earned.
By that time we were off! Got a jump on everyone, ran down the hill to the car, and back on the M4 by 11 and home by midnight. Another in the recent run of big gigs, but perfectly executed by those returning heroes The Pixies!
I didn't get a set-list, but just FYI the set was as follows;
SLOW WAVE OF MUTILATION
WHERE IS MY MIND
LA LA LOVE YOU
HERE COMES YOUR MAN
INTO THE WHITE
IS SHE WEIRD
ED IS DEAD
PLANET OF SOUND
ISLA DE ENCANTA
SOMETHING AGAINST YOU
ISLA DE ENCANTA REPRISE
MONKEY GONE TO HEAVEN
FAST WAVE OF MUTILATION