Pavement @ Barrowland, Glasgow, 05/05/2010

May 11, 2010 by  

With their killer guitar hooks, witty lyrics and daring lo-fi sound, Pavement were one of the most influential and distinctive indie rock bands of the nineties. A decade has passed since Pavement last came to these shores, and a 2010 worldwide reunion tour has once again allowed them to show just why they were such a celebrated band in the American underground. Their impressive back catalogue of five well crafted studio albums still sound every bit as fresh and imaginative today as they did in the nineties, so it was unsurprising that there were as much younger fans here than those who would have last seen Pavement on their “Terror Twilight” tour eleven years ago.

The band kicked off with “In the Mouth of a Desert”, from their massively influential 1992 debut LP Slanted and Enchanted, which was met with an expectably huge roar of applause from the ecstatic Barrowland crowd. “Grounded”, “Rattled by the Rush” and “Gold Soundz” were all brilliantly performed and allowed singer/guitarist/songwriter Stephen Malkmus to expertly showcase his characteristic loose style of guitar playing. The crowd were enjoying every single note, but it wasn’t until the punky blast of “Unfair” when the crowd went truly crazy, especially when percussionist Bob Nastanovich leapt out from his drum kit to bellow out the chorus. “Range Life” was another highlight where Malkmus noticeably changed the lyric from “Hey, you gotta pay your dues/ Before you pay the rent” to “You gotta join the Silver Jews/ Before you pay the rent” a reference of course to his previous collaborations with David Berman.

A few of the more conventional – but very catchy – Pavement tracks were written by the bands other guitarist and occasional lead vocalist Scott “Spiral Stairs” Kannberg, and both of his songs “Date With Ikea” and “Kennel District” went down tremendously well with the crowd. Spiral Stairs had previously talked of wanting to reunite in the last couple of years so it was hugely satisfying to see the band play a couple of his own numbers.

“Fight this Generation”, from the brilliantly twisted and erratic album “Wowee Zowee”, furthermore proved that this band are in a league of their own, where a gentle introduction was then progressed into an outstanding coda that included some neat whistle additions from Nastanovich. Other classics such as the MTV hit “Cut Your Hair” and slacker anthem “Summer Babe” were both met with rapturous approval and “Debris Slide” was lively and full of energy. The fragile ballad “Here” from their debut album, was an appropriate closing song due to its poignant lyric “I was dressed for success/ But success it never comes…everything’s ending here”.

There was no doubt that this was a brilliant set by the band, however there were moments when it looked like the crowd were having way more fun than the band themselves (particularly Malkmus) and there was no second encore, leaving a lot of fans slightly disappointed. There was also a technical problem during the finish to “Give It a Day”; however this was quickly forgotten thanks to some stylish improvisation from drummers Steve West and Nastanovich where they drummed and chanted along with the crowd until they were all clear to start “Trigger Cut”. Those were only minor setbacks however as Pavement put on a memorable show and Malkmus summed up his band perfectly on “Frontwards” when he sang “Well I’ve got style/ Miles and miles/ So much style that its wasted”.


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