Pavement, Brixton Academy, London

  • @_jackriley
Stephen Malkmus, Pavement's lead singer, has achieved cult status amongst indie fans of a certain age; namely, those young enough to take Mark E Smith's claims of their plagiarism with a pinch of salt but old enough to remember them from before their 10 year hiatus began in 1999. In that time, the face of indie music changed tremendously, but on the evidence of tonight's set, the first of a four-night residency, Malkmus' awkward West coast mumble and the charm of the group he affectionately described as a "medium-big college-rock band" has remained.

Also intact is the band's ability to temper their slacker sound with an acerbic twist. Range Life's bitchy references to Stone Temple Pilots and the Smashing Pumpkins are preserved as an anachronistic reminder of the perils of grumpiness on tour, but there are plenty more growls and grumbles from percussionist Bob Nastanovich that lead the night's entertainment from the softer territory of Gold Soundz through to heavier numbers like Elevate Me Later. In the latter song, a crescendo of screaming guitars crashes upon a willing audience before the band regroup for a final, sober verse, as the band showcase their ability to change gears, and styles, at a moment's notice.

Throughout the 31-song set the Academy reverberates with the sound of former greats creaking back into life, with all the squeaks of missed notes on vocals and guitar a more-than-forgiveable infelicity when braced against the thrill of seeing their classics reimagined - understandably creaking, that is, since the number of shows they've played since announcing their reunion is barely in double digits. As it happens, their decade away is about how long it would take to piece together the material from which tonight's set was drawn, a mixture of tracks from the group's five full albums and eight EPs with enough rareties thrown in to satisfy even the most esoterically inclined fan's appetite. With favourites like Cut Your Hair and Spit On A Stranger on hand too though, the audience were left firm in the knowledge that the band's residency, which concludes on Thursday with a support slot from Broken Social Scene, will be one to remember.

Listen to the set on Spotify (some tracks not available)

Set list

Silence Kit



Box Elder

Father to a Sister of Thought


Shay Lane

In The Mouth A Desert

Gold Soundz

Summer Babe


Kennel District

Perfume V

No Life Singed Here

Fight This Generation

Range Life

Two States

Trigger Cut/Wounded-Kite at :17

Starlings of the Slipstream

Spizzle Trunk

Spit on a Stranger

Ell Ess Two

Rattled by the Rush

Cut Your Hair

We Dance


Date w/ Ikea

Debris Slide

Give it a day

Stop Breathing