The Breeders @ Forum, North London 19 June
Me, me, me, me, me, me, ME!
Personal pronouns are not a the girls are familiar format, but every song here means something different to each individual crammed into The Forum tonight, for the final leg of The Breeders UK end of the 20th Anniversary Last Splash world tour. It’s the first hot day for weeks in the city. People are singing each song word for word, squashed like north London underground commuters, yet in their own world, and when the inevitable contact with another human being breaks the trance, there’s a mutual apology and loved-up grin, an acknowledgement that this is a real celebration and we are here, this is it, we are it.
This need to be here, is all about the songs; the chance to hear them this loudly again, to experience the surreal mixed feelings of both exhilaration, when in seconds, it’s ‘New Year’, Kim Deal’s pacey guitar rhythm riding us home as the song breaks, cutting through the heat and expectation, and nostalgia, as they move straight on to the song everybody recognises, ‘Cannonball’, with its unique opening riff and feedback.
“We’re playing the whole of Last Splash,” beams Kim Deal, who is keeping “a surprise” under wraps, for now.
It’s good to see that USA indie rock band Nineties’s thing: clean and thoroughly casual. Later they are joined by Mick Allen, vocals, from The Wolfgang Press, in a full suit, even Kim comments on the grown up attire. Such good company this evening; the girls are spot Catherine from Stereolab, Bev, My Bloody Valentine, Debbie Smith, Curve, Echobelly, The Nuns, Blindness… It’s fair to say they were here when The Breeders, now known and loved as Breeders, first played here as a band in 1992. Kurt Cobain listed the 1990 Pod album, in his Top Three albums.
That’s some legacy, which started even before that: Kim Deal had been on tour with The Pixies, with Throwing Muses as support. She and Tanya [Donnelly] thought it a fun notion to start writing songs together. Be clear, they didn’t think about forming a band, that’s an entirely different motivation, and the band have never lost that drive for proper guitar pop songs, with brains. Kim is a natural song writer, having written The Pixies ‘Gigantic’; you could almost take the album home for tea with the folks, almost, except for the cover of Pod.
We are dead curious to see how time has fared for Kim and Kelley, the Deal sisters, AND Jospehine Wiggs, the Brit, wears glasses now, still deadpan, previously from a band Nineties London gig goers knew well: The Perfect Disaster. Kelley, how has she faired, the one who couldn’t even play guitar when she joined, but whose dark, complex instinct has made these clever indie pop songs, edgy and angular?
It’s amazing to get a whole album, with a track listing like Last Splash, live and in yer face; arms and legs of creatures like ‘Flipside’, or ‘Divine Hammer’, coming out to greet you and shake your hand. The album’s re-release has “We told you so” written all over it. These songs are powerful, still urgent and interesting and touring is not so much a promotion for the album but the ultimate Last Splash, a big showy-off, get everyone soaked one, because these are exceptional songs and they’re brilliant musicians .And we haven’t even got on to Pod yet. Really?
Pod, the under rated album, yet the one that changed people’s lives and maybe even the course of herstory in independent music, is indeed our encore one and a total surprise. The worry is can we stay standing? Will we have to pee here, on the spot? Can we do this – all that emotion and guitar power, all over again? Yes. It’s a beautiful thing, darkness and doubt creep in, played out this time around with self-love and understanding. Ms Positivity [Carrie Bradley on keyboard and violin], leaving the stage for most of this set and really rolling over when Kelley remembers the blues, singing ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’. It’s a feeling, a whole chunk of punk, wrapped in indie artfulness. The Breeders: it was personal. For them, for us.
Did it mean anything to you?