O2 Academy, Glasgow

When my ears first picked up on the initial discordant guitar pop burst of early 1989 b-side Into The White featuring, unusually, Kim Deal on vocals, I had never heard anything quite like them before.

It was the start of a love affair that lasted until the band that inspired a host of quiet-loud alternative rock combos, including Nirvana, prematurely broke up in 1993.

The conflict between Deal and singer Black Francis translated into the music turning these Boston misfits into one of the most remarkable guitar bands in the world in their time.

The beast of Francis married to Deal's warped nursery rhyming and Joey Santiago's contorted guitar sound proved an irresistible combination. 

But it was precisely this clash that originally destroyed the band away from the music.

Deal is now nowhere to be seen in 2019, and is the only missing member of a band, who, in their pomp were way ahead of their time, producing the kind of barking surf punk that was oft copied but could never be matched.

Reunions can work,  but for Pixies we see and hear mere glimpses of their past hoorahs rather than any progression. A victim, perhaps, of their legacy.

At least that is the case on record.

Tonight, supporting a so-so third album since the 'reunion' it is the songs from that glorious pre-split past that prove to be the most dazzling.

It is clear, too, that the band know it.

From the opening chimes of Ed Is Dead from their first mini album Come On Pilgrim to a rapturous Debaser encore, the emphasis was, in the main, that mouthwatering back catalogue.

Not that they are obviously pandering. There are no 'thank yous' ever and no reference to Glasgow, or indeed any audible dialogue directed at the audience at all.

Pixies were never a band that followed tradition, and the fact that every night on tour they produce a different set list is further testimony to that.

This was a block rocking wham-bam-thank-you-mam Pixies manic pop thrill ride. In the main.

Bursting through early punk-inspired songs from their first EP Come On Pilgrim like Nimrod's Son and Isla De Encanta, Black Francis delivers that ranting rage, as if thirty years younger.

If I feared that this 54-year-old was merely using the band as an extension of his far more measured Frank Black persona, then the way he exploded through the white noise of Something Against You from Surfer Rosa and Dead, Gouge Away and Wave of Mutilation from Doolittle soon put me right.

Little bursts of the new songs from their new album, initally do not interupt this hades-for-leather delivery.

It is twenty minutes before Pixies 2019 bursts through with Graveyard Hill, and it does not sound out of place, existing as it does with a familiar throbbing bass line, trademark Santiago screwed guitar flicks and a killer singalong chorus.

But slowly but surely after halfway the more lumpen side of the band kicks in from their post-split output, from the tired Los Surfers Muertos, which sounds like someone's sick pastiche; the mid-paced This Is My Fate, where you can hear the crowd's disinterested chat and the awfully pedestrian Daniel Boone.

This is when the delivery is more slicing onions than eyeballs.

Just when you think that they have decided that they are not going to play to the rock cliches, they finish with one.  An all-band-members-together bow to the crowd, which is just what you would expect from an iconic band.  

Outside there was a fans' chorus of the classic Monkey Gone To Heaven in the gloomy wet street, which was not played tonight.

A snippet of what those that were here came for and were not disappointed.