Gig Review + Gig Photography by John Bentley

The Breeders

In a week when Kim Deal announces she has quit legendary band Pixies for the second time, she returns in triumph, touring with her ‘other band’ The Breeders. Gig Junkies catches them at a sell-out gig at Manchester’s Ritz, celebrating 20 years since the release of their acclaimed album ‘Last Splash’.

The Breeders

I confess to being an absolutely massive Pixies fan and was heartbroken when they originally split in 1993. However, as consolation both leading players, Frank Black and Kim Deal have gone on to pursue successful careers and have produced some great music. In Pixies, Kim Deal contributed some splendid songs (like ‘Gigantic’) and some great bass playing and singing, her soft voice being a great counterbalance to Frank Black’s howling. However, Pixies never allowed her to fully develop her songwriting and ideas. So she formed The Breeders, initially with Throwing Muses’s Tanya Donelly. The band provided an outfit that enabled Kim to move to guitar and to record more of her own songs. First album ‘Pod’ was well received and showed-off her abilities admirably. However, the definitive Breeders album proved to be the more accessible ‘Last Splash’, played by the band which now included her sister Kelley, along with bass player Josephine Wiggs and drummer Jim Macpherson. So it’s this celebrated line up we get tonight to perform the album, plus violinist and multi-instrumentalist Carrie Bradley, who also played on the original record.

The Breeders

The band finally comes on stage just after nine. A very casual looking bunch, Kim sheepishly approaches the mike and whispers that they are gonna play ‘Last Splash’, as if we didn’t know. ‘Last Splash’ is an album that mixes some classic rockers, like ‘Cannonball’ and ‘Divine Hammer’, with some mellow stuff like ‘Do You Love Me Now’, with some pretty experimental pieces in between. So straight off we’re into the album opener ‘New Year’, followed by the stomping ‘Cannonball’, which gets the audience totally in the mood. ‘Roi’ is one of the more experimental numbers and features Carrie Bradley playing some abrasive violin. Josephine Wiggs moves to drums for this number, while Jim Macpherson takes up her bass. Afterwards she complains, to some amusement, that he’s made her bass all sweaty. It’s a very warm and humid evening in Manchester and Josephine tells us it’s hotter than when they played Barcelona.

The Breeders

Kim does some lovely soft crooning on the romantic ‘Do You Love Me Now’, after which we get the deranged instrumental Flipside’, which Kim informs us is the end of ‘Side 1’ of the (Vinyl) album. So then we’re into ‘Side 2’. ‘Mad Lucas’ features some weird and wobbly vocal effects, some guitar playing that sounds a bit like Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ in places and some suitably twisted violin playing. ‘Side 2’ ends with some delightfully hokey violin playing on the singalong ‘Drivin’ On 9′ and a final bit of instrument mangling on the reprise of ‘Roi’.

The Breeders

So the band leaves the stage with waves, having played through ‘Last Splash’, and then we’re into the ‘encore’, if that is what you would call it. Well really we’re then into part 2 of the evening. “We know some more songs, so we’re gonna play them”, announces Kim. These other songs are taken from the ‘Pod’ album and EPs from the early period, kicking off with ‘Shocker in Gloomtown’, a Guided By Voices cover.

The Breeders

A particular treat is their imaginative rendition of Lennon’s ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’, which must rate as one of the best ever Beatles covers. Josephine does some interesting spoken vocals on ‘Metal Man’, her English accent strangely contrasting with Kim and Kelley’s American drawl. The band leaves the stage once again, as the rhythm section (Jim and Josephine) play them off with the final repeated riffs to ‘When I was a Painter’. However, there’s a second encore, finally ending with some frenzied guitar playing on ‘Don’t Call Home’.

Slick, The Breeders are not, but tonight it’s fantastic fun music, with great tunes and hooks as well as experimentation, played by a bunch of musicians who are really enjoying celebrating their musical heritage.

Mount Fabric

Support this evening comes from Manchester band Mount Fabric, whose Facebook entry describes them as “falsetto, reverb, toms, distortion, effects, shattering highs and abusers of all things classic”. They are an exploratory band, who clearly have a range of influences, employing electronic effects, fast and slow playing and frequent changes of rhythm, among other things. At times they sound a bit like Sigur Ros, but less ethereal, with high pitched vocals and guitar effects. Their last song is particularly impressive, with ferocious drumming and trebly ‘singing’ guitar effect.

The Breeders Setlist: New Year; Cannonball; Invisible Man; No Aloha; Roi; Do You Love Me Now; Flipside; I Just Wanna Get Along; Mad Lucas; Divine Hammer; SOS; Hag; Saints; Drivin’ On 9; Roi (Reprise). Encore 1: Shocker in Gloomtown; Safari; Happiness is a Warm Gun; Metal Man; Limehouse; Hellbound; When I was a Painter. Encore 2: Iris; Don’t Call Home.

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