Helen Newbery 08/04/2008
It's been more years than I care to remember since I last saw The Breeders live. With a new album, Mountain Battles, to promote, their first in six years, they are back on a tour of the UK, and then of course there's the inevitable heavy festival rotation in the summer.
Glasgow is their first night in the UK, and there's an almost audible intake of breath as the Deal sisters, along with Jose Medeles and Mando Lopez, take to the stage. They open, as on the album, with the sweeping 'Overglade', and Kim's voice circles the venue as the lyrics “I can feel it” ring out, clear as a bell above the distinctive bass-heavy Breeders sound. It's followed, again, as on the album, by the woozy yet insistent beats of 'Bang On', surely destined to be a festival favourite come the summer. However, the first jaw-dropping moment comes during 'No Aloha', from their most commercially successful album to date, Last Splash. It's just us and that voice, simultaneously innocent and rich, carrying all before it, and then the spell breaks and the familiar and oh-so-irresistible bassline kicks in.
Further tracks from Last Splash are scattered throughout an hour-long set which is weighted in favour of the new album. And it's perhaps unsurprising, given that the album was only out the day before, and that the slightly older crowd at the ABC might not be expected to be as download-happy as younger gig-goers, that it's the older material which gets the best audience reaction. 'Cannonball' and 'I Just Wanna Get Along', in particular, keep everyone bouncing along down at the front. But despite being known for their upbeat indie-pop, it's their slower songs such as 'Here No More', with its country tinged harmonies which use their deadliest weapon, namely Kim's voice, to their best advantage.
The band themselves are calm and assured, and there's a fair amount of chatter between the Deal sisters and with the audience in between songs. Kim asks in one of her many matey asides with the crowd, “don't you hate it when a band plays all their new songs?” Well, frankly, Kim, when the new songs are this good, no we don't. She also bemoans long sets, and it's this ease which leaves the audience feeling that she's, y'know, one of us really.
A deservedly warm welcome back to the UK for The Breeders. Just as long as they don't leave it so long next time.