The young do not have a monopoly on having fun - they may think they do, but they don't. Last night proves this. I sit here, hoarse from screaming, aching from some bizarre dance moves, a little sinusy after having to walk through clouds of cigarette smoke.
I am also euphoric.
The Pixies are still God and I am their willing disciple. I bow down, awestruck, to the brilliance of Frank Black, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering.
Yes, I am an unapologetic Pixies tragic.
I have always loved going to see live music, although I've never gone regularly to gigs. As I've got older, I've succombed to the perception that it's something those young things do. It might get violent. There might be mass drunken behaviour. Oh for pities sake - that's what I was doing twenty years ago, beered up, revving, out for a good dance and scream. I remember fronting to Football Park in Adelaide to see the Hoodoo Gurus, or the Tivoli to see Hunters and Collectors (still up there with my best ten gigs, evah!) and dissing the folks who went to see the B52s at the Thebarton Theatre when they were on their Love Shack tour - me the purist, had loved them since their Private Idaho and Rock Lobster days - how dare they love the sellouts.
Living in London, there were the rare concerts - David Byrne from Talking Heads, with this 45 peice Mariachi band was incredible. The Rolling Stones at Wembley Arena had to be done. I remember an old boyfriend dragging me to some dodgy Irish bands - and I ended up loving it - the feeling of just being there experiencing the music, the crowds, the general atmosphere.
When in England, I never did the festivals. Like lots of my twenties and thirties, there was nobody really interested in going with me - and live music needs to be shared. Coming back to Australia, it was a similar problem. My friend Caramel is big into Crowded House - she'd come with me to see them. Australia does good stadium shows - Robbie Williams and the Cure come to mind.There was the odd pub gig, but really, knowing I have dodgy music taste, finding willing gig goers can be a bit hard.
Things changed four years ago when I met Alice.
We sat next to each other at work, got talking and were both amazed at the coincidences. Alice is a week older than me to the day. We lived a few streets away from eachother in London at the same time. We'd hung out at the same pubs and clubs around West Hampstead. We had never met before we sat next to each other in a financial software firm in St Kilda. Alice is also a live music fanatic, and finally, I found somebody to go to gigs with. Well the occassional gig - Alice also has a five-year-old son and a husband.
So after Jason Mraz and Billy Bragg at the Prince of Wales we hit pay dirt. The V Festival. We went up to the Gold Coast to see that most revered of bands - The Pixies. Until then, they had never played in Australia. We were in heaven. Alice had already seen them at the Brixton Academy and she managed to score a ticket to a renegade concert in Northcote. I was sooooo envious, but happy to shell out the money to make the trip up north to see this mose revered of bands.
I remember thinking at the time that it was a funny mosh pit. Lots of people with the appearance of being in their late thirties/early forties, wearing in sensible shoes, daggy jeans, glasses, hair going grey at the temples, checking watches, calling home to see if the babysitter was okay. Without fail, everyone of these geriatric mosh pitters went for it harder than the young ones in the crowd. We knew every word to every song. We bellowed our never ending praise. It was the best gig I have ever seen.
So when the Pixies announced another round of concerts, I was in quicker than you could say "Debaser."
The last gig I'd been to before this was Jeff Beck at the Palais. The Grounded Dutchman and I got last minute tickets to his second concert. I have no idea how that man does what he does with a guitar, but it's a form of magic. It was one of those hot nights in Melbourne, when everything was trying to cool down and failing miserably. All you could to was sit back, drink beer and hope that something would take you away from the stifling heat. I only remember being transported to another place as this magical electric guitar music played on. GD has always said I'm funny when I listen to music. I seem to disappear as I let the beat and melody take me over.
He's right - music is like a drug to me - it's partly why I listen to talking books or podcasts when I'm in the car - other than it's too embarrasing when I get caught singing along and I tend to drift of. Talking books are much safer.
Last night was a bit different to other gigs. Alice is not having a great time at the moment. After a day which involved a few hours in a dentist chair, worrying about an imminent trip back to England to see her ailing father, her head was elsewhere. Her husband Dougall was also a bit quiet. He recently snapped his achilles tendon, so he's only just getting back on his feet. Thankfully for Dougall, he arranged a possie in the stalls, not in the floor, which really did look a bit feral. Though looking forward to the mosh pit, I think I'm glad we were up in the seats. I don't know how I'd go with crowd surfers overhead.
Festering, whoops, Festival Hall has been in existence since God was boy. Talking to some folks on the tram on the way in, this fellow way saying he saw the Roller Derby there in the early seventies. This is possibly the last time the hall got a make over. You mention the place to some and the words 'death trap' come out. At least you can't smoke in venues any more. Mosh pits have lost their danger appeal now you can't lose an eye to a lit ciggy any more. Nor will the place be torched by the but ends (though the electrics might get it in the end) But the accoustics aren't too bad - and they sell beer. What more do we need? .
Being the magicians that they are, the Pixies delivered with buckets. Starting with a few B-sides, they went on to play the whole of the Doolittle album, end to end. Heaven. The bad day, the dentist chair, the Hell Week, a sick father and a dodgy leg all disappeared. All that existed was rock and roll, the manic movements of Dave on the drums, Frank Black at his creepy best, the etherial harmonies from Kim and Joey going hell for leather on the drums.
Alice has the advantage over me - being a good Essex girl she can whistle with her fingers in her mouth - I just have to scream. We did lots of both. We danced a lot. We got lost in the beat. I can't think why I don't do this more often.
Alice and I took bets on the encore. We knew there should be two of them. The first set was almost a forgone conclusion. The Second encore was going to be where the gems came out. Alice wanted to hear "Head On", the cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain song that they do. I just wanted to hear "Where is my Mind." And "Nimrod's Son". We got our wish. Along with "Vamos" and "Gigantic" as a third encore.
We left, amid a cloud of cigarette and dope smoke that had sprung from the crowd leaving the builidng - tired, hoarse and happy.
Today, I feel very flat. Maybe that's why they only play for such a short time so infrequently. Too much of a good thing would be dreadful.
But there can never be too much of The Pixies.
p.s. for those of you asking who the hell are The Pixies - without the Pixies there would be no Nirvana.
I give you my favourite ever Pixies song. "Where is my Mind."