The Breeders - University Stylus, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:
The Breeders - University Stylus, Leeds
The Breeders - University Stylus, Leeds

The Breeders, it would be fair to say, have experienced a fair amount of drama with tales of drink, drugs and rehab littering their backstory. Yet, the main thing that comes across while watching Kim and Kelley Deal perform is just how happy they look. They’ve just released their first album in 10 years and are greeted with appropriately rabid levels excitement from tonight’s packed-out crowd.

Tonight’s support comes from Amsterdam’s Pip Blom. The band is named after their leader singer, guitarist and chief songwriter; Blom is in her early twenties yet there’s a clear affinity with 90’s alt-rock. Their wide-eyed, youthful enthusiasm is infectious with drummer Gini Cameron pulling the songs along with considerable energy as guitarist Tender Blom excitably hammers the life out of his instrument.

It’s the kind of music designed to soundtrack your perfect summer with the brilliantly catchy ‘I Think I’m in Love’ standing out as the kind of fuzzy, carefree alt-rock tune you wish you heard much more often. My friend thinks they’re “adorable” and look a little like the Weasley’s from Harry Potter. Who am I to argue with that?

The Breeders introduce themselves with ‘New Year’ before launching into the brilliantly fresh post-punk stylings of ‘Wait in the Car’. It’s hard to believe that they’ve been away for so long. The sense of excitement is tangible. I’m sweating buckets (too much information?) but that hardly seems to matter now the show is underway. It’s 2018 and The Breeders are well and truly back in business.

The sisters are joined by drummer Jim Macpherson and bassist Josephine Wiggs, reuniting the line-up that made the iconic Last Splash LP. With past dramas firmly in the rear view mirror, everyone looks like they’re having a blast. Wiggs occasionally blowing bubbles from a pot as Kelley tries to tell us an anecdote about her effects pedals. Laughing as the band starts playing the next song before she can finish.

Songs from the new album, All Nerve, slide perfectly into the set with the likes of ‘Spacewoman’, ‘Dawn: Making an Effort’ and the album’s title track perfectly balancing melancholy and starry-eyed euphoria. ‘Off You’ from Title TK is tender and disarmingly beautiful. The songs are short, concise bursts of brilliance; The Breeders aware that less can sometimes be more.

The bands cover of ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ remains one of the finest Beatles covers in human existence but if that simply isn’t enough we’re also treated to Pixies classic ‘Gigantic’. I’m enjoying the newer Pixies stuff but is it really the Pixies without Kim Deal?

Songs from Last Splash are sprinkled throughout the set; the sprightly jangle of ‘Divine Hammer’ and a crowd-pleasing ‘Cannonball’ receiving suitably ecstatic responses. Kim laughs as she tells us “mother said Kelley had to sing a song” before playing the impossibly cool ‘I Just Wanna Get Along’.

‘Drivin’ on 9’ might just be my highlight of the whole night with violin accompaniment provided by Sophie Galpin from Manchester’s Pins. It’s one of those blissfully perfect performances you know you’ll never forget. Seriously, The Breeders would make an amazing country album if they ever decided to.

Somehow, through all their trials and tribulations, The Breeders have managed to find a way to bottle happiness and deliver it to the masses. As they start the encore with ‘Do You Love Me Now?’ the answer seems blindingly obvious. How could you not love The Breeders?

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