Gig Review by Simon Saynor with Photography by Mark Loraine

There is something just undeniably cool about The Breeders. I’m not happy with that word ‘cool’ in there. It’s not a word I use. Ever. But I’m going to allow it this once. The Breeders are a band every aspiring musician should want to be in. That has to be cool surely? I mean, this is rock royalty up on that stage. I digress.

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The evening starts with support from Dutch rockers Pip Blom. It’s clear to see why the Deal sisters picked this Amsterdam quartet as support. They almost out Breeder The Breeders. Pip Blom (singer/guitarist/front woman as well as donating her name to the band) is as engaging a performer as you could wish to see. She bounces through guitar laden indie anthem after guitar laden indie anthem, her almost ethereal vocals backed by some ferocious, stabbing grunge-infested guitars. This is a seriously tight band and definitely one to look out for.

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Back in 1993 people started looking The Breeders way when ‘Cannonball’ surfaced. It was like nothing ever heard before. Off the back of that, second album ‘Last Splash’ went platinum and rightly so. Kim Deal knows how to please a crowd, out of a 24 song set a third is from ‘Last Splash’ with another third coming from latest offering ‘All Nerve’, two albums 25 years apart yet inextricably Breeders.

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As if to celebrate ‘Last Splash’s silver anniversary we start with opening track ‘New Year’ then straight into the first single from ‘All Nerve’, ‘Wait In The Car’. Kim has a permanent smile throughout the set, she is genuinely pleased to be up there. Forget she was bass player in one of the most influential bands ever, this is someone playing for the love of playing. Her interaction with the crowd comes across as almost giggling playfulness, as if she still can’t quite believe this is her job and has been for her whole adult life.

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As mentioned the set is comprised mostly from the last album and ‘Last Splash’ but we do get some seriously early Breeders with a, ahem, glorious rendition of ‘Glorious’ from debut album ‘Pod’. When Kim isn’t chatting with the crowd she’s sharing in-jokes with big sister (by 11 minutes) Kelley. It all has a very laidback feel to it. It’s endearing. I never expected that from a Breeders gig. It’s safe to say a large section of the crowd are waiting for the distorted vocal intro of ‘Cannonball’. It gets thrown in mid-set. Most bands with such a weapon in their armoury would throw it in as the set closer or first encore. Not The Breeders. Now that’s cool. And for good measure they follow it with The Beatles’ ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’. There’s a thread developing here.

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The band are on fire now. Kim takes over bass duties from Josephine Wiggs for ‘Skinhead #2’ and ‘MetaGoth’, both from ‘All Nerve’. The latter for me is the stand out track both of the album and tonight’s gig. The thumping bass and Jim Macpherson’s pounding drums relentless as Kim’s vocals eerily fill the packed, sweating Stylus. 

Kim kicks into the unmistakable bass intro of ‘Gigantic’ from Pixies debut album ‘Surfer Rosa’, famously Kurt Cobain’s favourite Pixies song. I love Pixies, I love Black Francis but this was always Kim’s. It feels like she’s reclaiming it. It is nothing short of triumphant. That’s how you close a set. Cool.

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It’s a late finish, it’s been 90 minutes of sheer exuberant flawlessness but they’re not quite done with us yet. Back to ‘Last Splash’ for ‘Do You Love Me Now?’ (God yes!) and fan favourite ‘Saints’ before leaving us with recent single ‘Nervous Mary’. Kim’s vocals have been nothing short of awesome all night. She, and The Breeders, are sounding better than ever.

Set List:
New Year
Wait in the Car
All Nerve
No Aloha
Divine Hammer
Huffer
Glorious
Howl at the Summit
Safari
Spacewoman
Drivin’ on 9
Walking With a Killer
Fortunately Gone
S.O.S.
Off You
I Just Wanna Get Along
Cannonball
Happiness Is a Warm Gun
Skinhead #2
MetaGoth
Gigantic
Encore:
Do You Love Me Now?
Saints
Nervous Mary

See the full photoset from this gig here.

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