A minor conundrum arrived in my e-mail inbox today. Pixies are once again touring in the UK this winter, but for a change they’re playing my home town of Leeds. So what’s the conundrum you might ask? My all time favourite band playing in my home town, buying tickets as soon as they go on pre-sale tomorrow is a no-brainer surely?
I mean, there are always concerns about getting a babysitter, but having two grandmas nearby means we’re usually ok in that regard. Having recently acquired both a child and a mortgage, and with a car next on the list, money is tight enough that we can’t just spend £60 in concert tickets on a whim If we wanted it enough I’m sure we could find a way to pay for it though.
So, why aren’t I jumping at the chance to buy tickets? When I first became a Pixies fan, it was well after they had first split up, and there was nothing I longed for more than a reunion. So much so that, when they actually did reform to play the Coachella Festival in California, I seriously considered spending thousands of pounds flying to the festival in case it was their only gig. As it turned out, that really wasn’t something I had to worry about. I saw them 5 times over the next 5 years, and the gigs were everything I hoped they would be, some of the best of my life. But despite that, the law of diminishing returns began to apply. The first few times were joyous, emotional occasions, the crowds having thought they might never get to see this band again. By the fifth, whilst it was still a great gig, it wasn’t that different from going to see any of my other favourite bands. Familiarity hadn’t bred contempt, but it had lessened my excitement a bit. I thought maybe I would leave it a few years before seeing them again.
In the meantime, the band themselves recognised they had to freshen things up a bit. They started putting out in new material on a more consistent basis in 2013, having only previously recorded 2 songs in nearly a decade since they reformed (one of which – Bam Thwok – I am rather fond of). To be honest though, the new material has been hit and miss, or even worse, just average. More significantly Kim Deal left the band, also in 2013. This is a big deal for me. Musically, I love Pixies the most when Kim is to the fore, or at least on equal footing with Frank Black, and emotionally it just doesn’t feel right if Kim isn’t there. I have friends who are insistent the band are just as good without her, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t feel that way.
So, do I decide that I’ve had enough great live Pixies memories to last me a lifetime, and that I don’t want to witness what may be the beginnings of a slow decline. Or do I just bite the bullet, buy tickets and accept that, whilst it will most likely still be a pretty good gig, it won’t be a life changer. Either way I’d better decide pretty quick, those tickets won’t last for long.