Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Breeders at The Milky Way

"Good morning" is the opening chant of the single that The Breeders issue on the eve of their tour. It reminds me of Last Splash, the legendary Breeders-album from 1993. They are back with that line-up and with that sound.

The Breeders originated as a side activity when Kim Deal was the bass-player with the Pixies, but didn't get enough creative space. The importance of the Pixies for the development of modern music has often been illustrated by Curt Curbain's quote that with Nirvana he was trying to imitate the Pixies - with more commercial success. Less known is that Curt also said that he wished Kim would write more Pixies songs. We could write a book about the immense influence of the Pixies and Kim Deal.

But now it's 2017. Nirvana and the original Pixies no longer exist, Kim is sober and the Breeders are standing on their own feet. In the Milky Way, in Amsterdam.


The venue is half empty when the opening act begins, the Pins from Manchester. But when they have finished their set, the place is packed. Most of the guests are dressed as casual as we know Kim. No expression of subcultures, no striking outfits.
The Breeders
Kim takes the center of the stage and clearly is the heart of the band. With visible pleasure she sings and plays guitar. Drummer Jim brings that same pleasure, drive and dynamics. Josephine plays her bass guitar cool and unmoved. Kelly needs all her attention for her guitar, all the time looking down at her hands when she plays.

We get a one and a half hour set of short and powerful songs that span the four decades of Kim's career. They also have the necessary historical awareness: "In the room next door Philip Glass is playing. This is from the Safari EP that we recorded in his studio in New York in 1993." "This song we played in 1992 when we were on tour with Nirvana, here in the Milky Way." "Back to the eighties" as announcement for Gigantic, the first single of the Pixies, built around Kim's bass line. She swaps bass and guitar with Josephine. Kelly captures Joey's screaming guitar riffs.

Instruments are also swapped for Off you. Now Kelly is playing bass, but she has to sit on the floor to read the chords of a large sheet of paper. Roadie Mike, who takes care of the guitars, is also playing along. It results in a very beautiful rendering.

Warm-up show for the tour in Newport, KY
The performances of  Drivin' on 9 and Beatles cover Happiness is a warm gun show how The Breeders are capable of transforming any song into their own unique sound. After a week on tour with the Pins, they discovered that Pins singer Faith plays the violin, and that's exactly what makes Drivin' on 9. Tonight she plays along for the first time, and it's the perfect addition. This could have been turned into an extended version, but even this song remains within the three minute limit.

The Breeders play all but smooth. The guitar changes take too long and sometimes go wrong. In the beginning, Kim's voice is mixed too low. They're constantly fiddling with the foot pedals and amplifier knobs. Kim has to explain Kelly what part she should play on Wait in the car. But the joy, volatility and energy laid in Kim's amazing compositions and arrangements make for a memorable evening.


More concert reviews 

Read more concert reviews (PIL, Patti Smith)

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