Pixies @ The Thebby, March ’10

I’m still not sure really how or why this happened, but for the Adelaide leg of the Pixies ‘Doolittle’ tour no photogs were granted access.

Except myself.

I was called by the Thebby late in the afternoon and told no photos tonight. I politely asked why that was and was told to “hold up, I’ll call you back”.

The ensuing phone call was better than any Christmas I’ve ever had: For some reason, I would be allowed as the only photographer. Nice!!! Rip It Up Magazine had already previously declined the offer of paid review tickets, so post gig, my pen skills were put to the test with a slightly different angle: a review of the photographic experience of the show! Something not done before at Rip It Up.

Below is my review and pics:

Three years after they visited us as part of their highly anticipated reunion tour, the seminal Pixies returned to bless us once more, this time the emphasis being on what many fans regard as their crowning moment: 1989’s Doolittle.

Being the only media photographer granted access to shoot this show was a welcome surprise late on the Thursday arvo of show day – I’d already accepted my fate of missing the sold out show entirely. But come 9pm I was in the photo pit at Thebbie with a grin the size of a really big grin awaiting a show that no doubt would be spoke of for years to come.

It’s highly doubtful that at any time in the lengthy history of rock n roll a band has opened their set with a slew of B sides, but tonight that’s precisely what The Pixies did. On a dimly lit stage the band ploughed through four sharp, short tracks that more than likely only a small percentage of the audience was familiar with.

Under instruction from management, I was to shoot the fifth, sixth, seventh & eighth songs and having been handed a set list, I noted they were the first four tracks from the album. Fine with me! I also noted further down the list there were a number of additional songs listed after album closer Gouge Away, but willing myself not to ruin the surprise, I stuffed the set list in my pocket and watched the four opening numbers.

After the unorthodox beginning of b-sides, Kim Deal’s bass signalled the commencement of album opener Debaser and the journey into Doolittle began. Suddenly the stage was awash in brilliant light and a previously subdued crowd stirred into action. Camera poised, I moved into the pit and snapped frame after frame, my ‘arm-held-high-above-head-with-wide-angle-lens-looking-down-at-band’ style not getting in any other photogs way because there were none! I was in two minds: how do I not shake my ass to this song? How can I shoot photos when I want to join in with Black Francis as he screams “I am un chien andalusia”? For so many years I’d jumped around my living room with this song on the steg, now it was being blasted in all its glory right before my eyes!

We all knew what was coming from the set but that was part of the fun and as the band screamed through Tame and then the sing-a-long inducing pop genius of Wave Of Mutilation I slapped on my 200mm lens and got my tight shots.

Having four songs to shoot meant I could take my time. Being able to move freely about the pit allowed me to compose my shots with a little more thought than what the stage lights were doing.

I Bleed was up next and having already got the shots I wanted, I lowered my lens and took it all in, pausing to note that I was watching a performance from a band that defined a entire genre. I grinned again.

After stashing my gear with the Thebbie staff, I raced back in to the closing moments of Here Comes Your Man and locating my best friend Georgie right up the front we danced our asses off song after song: the clear cut crowd favourite being the haunting despair of Hey. Also a pleasure to behold were the lesser played live tracks such as There Goes My Gun and Silver, before the timeless Gouge Away bought the set to a halt.

There was more to come with two encores, the first featuring the Kim Deal-sung Into The White which ended literally as the title suggests: a massive wash of white smoke engulfing the entire stage until the song finished and the smoke cleared leaving no one on stage. The second encore dipped into non-Doolittle territory with the classic Where Is My Mind?, interestingly played with electric guitar to a massive applause. The Holiday Song, Isla De Encanta, Ed Is Dead and a mesmerising Gigantic provided the perfect icing to an already delectable cake.

I walked out of Thebbie knowing I’d just photographed the Pixies: quite probably the highlight of my career.

A really big grin took form on my face again.

I’m still grinning days later.