Pixies / Idlewild / Teenage Fanclub / My Latest Novel – Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh – Sunday 28th August 2005
If the current Pixies live DVD is called ‘Pixies Sell-out’ then surely any future DVD of this tour has to be called ‘Pixies Take The Piss.’ This was a massive disappointment.
To be honest, last year I was prepared for them to suck at T in the Park in 2004. The band never made any bones about the fact that the reunion was about cash but even within that limit, they have an astonishing back catalogue. To my mind they have a responsibility to the paying punter to represent that back catalogue to a great extent. After the blistering set at T in the Park last year, expectations were high for another round of Pixies live mania.
Unfortunately this show proved that Pixies’ life is circular. If the reformation kicked off identically to the band’s original career, awesome, explosive and incandescent, within a period of 16 months they have already reached the flabby end period (and, no, I’m not talking about Mr Thompsons’s waistline.) Still capable of brilliance but seemingly incapable of distinguishing the genius from the mediocre. How else can you explain the fact that this was totally sabotaged by a run of songs straight from B-side hell.
It’s not often that I’ll go on about songs omitted from sets but honestly when you consider what WASN’T in preference to say the frankly pish ‘Stormy Weather’, it’s enough to make you cry. The advantage that bands which reform have is that they don’t have to hawk round the latest product and therefore don’t have to pretend that their latest offering isn’t the pile of steaming brown stuff that most people suspect. Reformations give bands an opportunity to concentrate on the songs that made their reputation. Which is what the Pixies did last year at T to devastating effect. But really which songs made the Pixies’ reputation? ‘The Holiday Song’ or ‘Winterlong’? ‘Dead’ or ‘La La Love You?’
The first 45 minutes were pretty decent. Only the appearance of ‘Stormy Weather’ was an early blip. But ‘Head On’ was a welcome inclusion (I always felt that they made the song their own) and the version of ‘Planet of Sound’, a song I’ve never been 100% sure of, was terrific.
But it wasn’t anything they hadn’t done last year and a poor version of ‘Blown Away’ really started the rot.
Following that up with a slew of B-sides, none of which were played particularly well, was disastrous and it was capped by giving Dave his solo spotlight with the pointless ‘La La Love You”. By the end of that run at 2 minutes past 10 I would have been happy to go home.
I’ve never much cared for ‘Here Comes Your Man’ so it didn’t improve my mood much whilst the closing trilogy of ‘Cactus’, ‘Vamos’ and ‘Where Is My Mind’ would have been mighty in other circumstances but it was a bit ‘So what?’ here.
A decent encore might have retrieved matters somewhat and whilst ‘Gigantic’ was excellent (kitsch Waltons style goodbyes aside), that was it. OK, I wouldn’t have welcomed the further exhumation of B-sides to fill out another 15 minutes but at 80 minutes for a headlining stadium set, this was poor value and another illustration of a terribly disappointing evening.
I know you’re saying to yourself, it can’t have been that bad, over half the set was stuffed with solid gold classics. But when so much of the rest of the set was filler you can’t help but be disappointed.
You’ve got the pension fund now guys so knock it on the head and don’t sully the legend any further.
By contrast Idlewild were absolutely excellent. A well judged set (they even had the decency to finish with ‘A Film for the Future’ and omit ‘American English’ – result!) highlighted their strengths. In fact they barely put a foot wrong all night apart from Allan Stewart who barely moved a foot having apparently twisted his ankle just prior to going on stage.
Without having heard much of the new album, the new material sounds like a return to form after the disappointment of chunks of ‘The Remote Part’. (2018 note – I have since reviewed my opinion of TRP!)
But it was a set crammed with highlights new and old – ‘You held the World …’, ‘Loneliness’, ‘Modern Way’ ‘Roseability’ and ‘Hiding Place’ to name but a few. ‘Film’ inevitably was a raucous way to end – with the contrast between the rest of the band and the immobile Stewart an amusing bonus.
The only disappointment was that the set was so short – at 42 minutes they could easily have played a further 15 minutes and left the crowd wanting more. But Idlewild achieved what the headliners singularly failed to do – they made me want to listen to their music. Well done, chaps.
Teenage Fanclub were third on the bill and to be fair were great in that slot. Me and the Fannies parted company about 10 years ago in terms of LPs and it’s longer since I’d seen them live. So it’s a surprise when I know three quarters of the set, although again that suggests a band which knows the strengths of the back catalogue.
The sound wasn’t great, a bit muddy to be honest, and it was a little bit disappointing that their first single remains their best song. But it’s an enjoyable enough time.
Openers My Latest Novel sound folky but their songs are structured in a far more experimental way. It doesn’t get past them sounding dull to these ears and an odd introduction to the bill.
You Held The World In Your Arms
Love Steals Us From Loneliness
A Modern Way of Letting Go
I Can Understand
Live In A Hiding Place
When I Argue I See Shapes
A Film For the Future
Monkey Gone To Heaven
Wave of Mutilation
Ed Is Dead
Planet of Sound
Into The White
In Heaven (Lady In The Radiator Song)
Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)
La La Love You
Here Comes Your Man
Where Is My Mind?