Pixies live @ the Iveagh Gardens, Dublin 16th July 2022

The vibes are good on a balmy evening at Dublin’s best outdoor concert venue.

It’s a predominantly middle-aged audience that have gathered to witness the return of 90s indie rock kingpins Pixies. That said, the younger generation are also well represented; there are even some families with young children dotted amongst the audience.

Every show I have attended at the Iveagh Gardens has been top class – as a city centre venue, it is easy to get to, onsite facilities are good, there are no lengthy queues for the bar & the sound is usually excellent.

Pixies take the stage with little or no fanfare at close to 8.30pm; there is no build-up, no pomp & ceremony – they amble on, strap on their instruments, and away we go.

What follows is a breathless, rollercoaster ride of 39 songs spanning their complete back catalogue in just over two hours; there is no between-song banter, no patronising platitudes – it is all about the music.

‘Cactus’ is a somewhat unusual opener but by the time we get to song three,  the crowd pleaser that is ‘Here Comes Your Man’, Black Francis & his gang have the crowd eating out of their hands.

It is difficult to pick out highlights – they give the crowd exactly what they want and then some; signature tunes like ‘Debaser’, ‘Gigantic’ & ‘Wave of Mutilation’ blend seamlessly with new material (Human Crime, There’s A Moon On) cover versions, (Winterlong, Head On) and some of their earliest recorded works (Caribou, Nimrod’s Son).

I know a lot of early Pixies fans fell out of love with the band when Kim Deal left. It has to be said, Paz Lenchantin is a very able replacement, handling vocal and bass duties with aplomb.

Joey Santiago has always been one of the most inventive and underrated guitarists on the scene – tonight, he demonstrated the full array of tricks at his disposal.

They finish the set with a truly spine-tingling version of ‘Where is My Mind?’ before briefly pausing to take the acclaim of the audience and then they are gone.

I saw Pixies play the National Stadium back in 1990 when they were in their pomp; I have seen the newer incarnation play live twice since then. There are those that say they are not the same band anymore, that they are purely going through the motions.

Honestly, I don’t see that. This was as good as I have seen them play. Don’t go along expecting to be told how much they love you. If you are looking for a choreographed, live ‘event’ with a dazzling light show, they are probably not going to rock your boat.

Pixies deliver a tight, no-nonsense, powerful set of some of the best songs of the late eighties/early nineties – tonight, that was more than enough for me.

Paul Page