The first timePavementplayed Melbourne, in 1993, after the release of their critically acclaimed debut albumSlanted and Enchanted, their original drummerGary Younggreeted punters entering thePrince of Walesband room, with cheese and crackers. Thirty years later, the band has endured a breakup in 1999, reformed for a reunion tour in 2010 and 2022, and today they’re back in Melbourne for a sold-out show at the Palais, with the original line-up (sans Young) plusRebecca Coleon keyboards.
Upon entering thePalais, the energy is palpable. Old and new Pavement fans alike are seated in anticipation, like wound up jack in the boxes, ready to spring forth at any moment. AsStephen Malkmusand drummerSteve Westmake their way onto the stage, the punters stand up, clapping and screaming, and remain standing until the show’s end.
“Our Singer” off their debut, opens with jangly guitar and Malkmus’ distinctive Stockton drawl, as a teaser of what’s to come. As Malkmus sings “I’ve been waitin’, anticipatin’, sun comes up, the skies won’t sink my soul”, the crowd sing along in agreement. The remaining four band members;Scott Kanberg(Spiral Stairs) on guitar,Mark Iboldon bass,Bob Nastanovichon percussion and Rebecca Cole on keys, make their way onto the stage to rapturous applause and launch into “Frontwards.”
As one of the most influential bands of the nineties,Pavementspawned many copycat bands, but none that can pull off arcane lyrics, unusual guitar tunings, achieve a cult following, and put on an entertaining rock show, like they can.Spiral Stairsmentions “Nick Cave sometimes wanders around here,” referring to Cave’s old stomping ground, andMalkmussings a few lines from the Foo Fighters’ “This is a Call,” off their debut, exclaiming “These lyrics are worse than mine!”Bob Nastanovichis the perfect foil to Malkmus’ cool demeanour, cavorting all about the stage, playing tambourine and offering ping pong and soap “giveaways” to the punters.
At just over 3 minutes per song, tonight’s setlist is comprised of 26 songs, including the popular “Cut Your Hair” offCrooked Rain, Crooked Rain, spawning a mass sing a long, “Shady Lane’, guitar driven “Stereo”, “Unfair” featuring Malkmus shouting “burn the hills of Beverly” amidst guitar squall of feedback, classic single “Summer Babe” off their debut, and the glorious melancholic “Gold Soundz,” interspersed with rarities from their back catalogue and a fitting end to the night with the nine minute long cover of Jim Pepper’s “Witchi Tai To” (based on a ritual native American chant).
Pavementtook us on a nostalgic journey with their lo-fi, discordant, melodic songs of our youth, humour, and tongue firmly in cheek, sadly without a cheese platter in sight.
5.Father to a Sister of a Thought
11. Embassy Row
12. Zurich is Stained
13. Two States
14. Major Leagues
16. Range Life
17. Stop Breathin’
18. Harness your Hopes
19. Starlings of the Slipstream
20. Type Slowly
21. Summer Babe
22. Spit on a Stranger
23. Painted Soldiers
25.Cut Your Hair
26. Witchi Tai To
(Jim Pepper cover)