Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunny side up - The Breeders @ Koko, 16 April 2008

I like guest posts. Not only does it give me more posts for less work, but it also gives friends a forum to share music they love too. This is a particularly good one - a review my my friend Dan of a Breeders' gig in London last week...

If I enjoyed the Pixies return at all, it was down to Kim Deal, beaming stage-left as they exploded the untouchable band from outer space myth i'd fostered since my musical coming of age. And it's smiling - that unmistakable sign of a band enjoying themselves - that I associate as much as anything with The Breeders. Tonight's no different; Kim Deal relishing every moment and wearing the look of someone continually being surprised by their own songs (literally jumping at the start of one) and Kelley Deal's endearing childish self-consciousness.

Opening with the garage rock of Amps track Tipp City, followed by Huffer, and with their cover of Guided By Voices' Shocker in Gloomtown not far behind, The Breeders waste no time in making it clear that they're here to rock and to have fun doing it, before going into the more subtle details of their musical manifesto. Possible torch song We're Gonna Rise harks back to the raw beauty and poise of Doe from flawless first album, Pod. "No counsel, no grand strategy, No sword to fall on", but the lovely live reverb of Kim Deal's voice covers a multitude of sins, more than compensating for any loss in the clarity of Steve Albini's spacious recording on Mountain Battles. Walk It Off may have a classic Pixies bassline, but otherwise it's pure Breeders, wistful and hopeful. Mountain Battles opener Overglazed has Kim Deal modestly shrugging her shoulders as she packs away the keyboard afterwards, but its plaintive hypnotic refrain, "I can feel it", feels far from tentative. The gentle folk of Here No More is all gorgeous home-baked Deal sister harmonies.

If you want to get to the front at a Breeders gig, just wait for Cannonball. Other songs from the American-indie heyday of Last Splash also go down well with the audience; Divine Hammer, New Year, Saints, Kelley's deadpan delivery of I Just Wanna Get Along and No Aloha - remarkable live - followed around by its pregnant slide guitar. When they play early songs like Iris and the perfect pop of Fortunately Gone, my nostalgia is battled by a kind of anxiety; these songs fix something in the past, songs that were only half a decade old when I first heard them, but even then seemed unreachable. To have them opened up before me, I feel the weight of privilege, compelled to cherish the moment lest it should be the last chance. But The Breeders' smiles as they close with new song German Studies - Kim and Kelley having fun with the lyrical wordplay - put my nostalgia in its place; they're a proper band these days and I'm expecting to see those smiles again before too long.

Download: The Breeders - We're Gonna Rise
Download: The Breeders - German Studies

Buy Mountain Battles from Rough Trade or download from emusic.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great review. Very nice to know The Breeders still having fun when they play and that they put their heart into.