Having written some of the finest songs in American alt-rock, Pixies could forgiven for the lack of spectacle in their show at at a sold-out O2 Academy Leeds.
Beyond a red flower perched on the end of Paz Lenchantin’s bass guitar, there isn’t really an awful lot going on visually besides four dark clad figures starkly lit from the back to make them seem as shadowy as possible.
Yet 30 years on from the band’s formation they prove their best songs can still rock up a storm without the kind of adornments that modern audiences have become used to.
Monkey Gone To Heaven has the crackle of old, as does the howl-along Caribou, Where Is My Mind? and the devillish mischief of Nimrod’s Son.
There’s the pleasing inclusion of their cover of the Neil Young song Winterlong too – an acknowledgement of one of their key influences – as well as a strummed version of the self-penned Wave of Mutilation to keep the diehards happy.
Their new album Head Carrier has its moments too – notably the title track, Tenement Song and the brutal rockabilly of Um Chagga Lagga, with Black Francis in a full-throated screaming mode – while Lenchantin’s moment in the spotlight, singing their tribute to departed original member Kim Deal, All I Think About Now, is undoubtedly poignant.
But it has to be admitted that at other points in this two hour long set things do start to sag, with a few of the deep cuts showing their catalogue is not all littered with nuggets of gold.
Several could easily have been dispensed with before the late rally of Gouge Away, Debaser and Dead.
That said, it is good to see guitarist Joey Santiago back in the throng after a recent stint in rehab and that David Lovering remains an impressive force on the drums.
Three decades on, Pixies still undoubtedly have a lot to offer – as their standout moments here show. If only they had kept their set list a little tighter.