O2 ABC, 15/10
Starting as a side project for Pixies’ bassist Kim Deal with assistance from first Throwing Muses’ Tanya Donnelly and later Deal’s twin sister Kelley, The Breeders grew to be cult legends of their own, supporting Nirvana and releasing noise-pop classic Last Splash in 1993 as grunge peaked. Tonight the audience are a mix of plaid clad grunge survivors, dads and young hipsters as the Deal sisters’ twin guitar attack returns to Glasgow for the first time in four years. The bulk of the set is drawn – in crowd pleasing fashion – from their two pre-split albums with most of the afore-mentioned Last Splash getting an airing.
First though, Manchester rockers PINS treat the audience to a dark and giddy sprint through a set of post-punk influenced anthems that splits the difference between Joy Division, The Stooges and Warpaint. They’re a young band who have already racked up plenty of miles on the road and this shows in a set that is notably sharp and well drilled, delivering simple yet effective snarls amid a barrage of crashing chords. ‘Girls Like Us’ is a twitchy, in-your-face anthem and they comfortably earn their spot as the opening act.
It’s been a while since Kim, Kelley and co have been on tour and at first it shows, with intros fluffed and Kim joking about forgetting songs in the sound check. Signature Breeders anthem ‘Cannonball’ is scratchy and a little messy, but ‘Divine Hammer’ is exquisite and their fabulously irreverent cover of The Beatles’ ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ is still an essential grunge artefact. ‘Hag’ and ‘Aloha’ prove that the group can still do both snark and summerness, and from here on the show picks up a gear as they rattle through two and a half minute pop song after pop song.
With her crisp delivery and snappier stage banter, Kelley is the more natural frontwoman, yet it’s Kim who soaks up the audience’s good will, grinning away despite some rhythm-disrupting technical difficulties. There are massive cheers from the audience as they greet ‘Gigantic,’ the thunderous bass-driven rocker that she penned for her former act. Two decades on, The Breeders remain underrated cult heroes.