It’s been twenty-two years since Pavement last played Manchester, in the intervening years, social media has taken off, the way we consume music has changed, yet for many bands the two-way street of appreciation between band and audience remains as vital as ever.

I was lucky enough to witness Pavement in the early years, after hearing them via a friend who managed to release one of their early singles as a free flexi disc (ask your parents), with her zine, which led on to us working their merch stall, and numerous interviews for her zine and mine. Every Pavement gig back in the day, seemed to have a small army of enthusiastic zine writers, following the band around the UK, and to their credit, the band would always take time to do interviews with these DIY/ underground music writers. It wasn’t quite the NME or Rolling Stone, but the band seemed to recognise the importance of the underground zine culture and had the patience to deal with a barrage of questions from them. 

In 2022 printed zines are as rare as an honest politician, yet when Pavement take to the stage at The Apollo, the welcome is as enthusiastic as all those years ago, if not more so. In the years since Pavement were regular touring visitors to these shores, their influence and appeal has spread beyond us forty somethings and with plenty of younger guitar bands proclaiming their affection (step forward Parquet Courts, etc), it’s easy to see why their brand of woozy, melodic, guitar tunes has not dimmed in its appeal.   

With five albums’ worth of songs to pick from, not to mention the countless EPs released over the years, they manage to spread the setlist across all eras, from the rabble-rousing uplift of Summer Babe to the laid-back groove of Major Leagues and Range Life. The subtleties of the perennial classic Here are as delicate as ever whilst on tracks like Unfair they step on the fuzztone with backing vocalist/percussionist Bob Nastanovich roaming around the stage mic in hand, providing vocals just as enthusiastically as ever, the perfect accompaniment to Stephen Malkmus more laidback melodic vocal tones. They’re also as tight as ever, whilst retaining that air of easy-going breeziness which is at the heart of the Pavement sound. 

B-sides and obscurities are scattered throughout the set, such as the tuneful sedate stomp of Harness Your Hopes (given a new lease of life through its use in a Tik Tok video) and Gangsters and Pranksters from the 1996 EP Pacific Trim, both of which sit seamlessly in the set alongside the big hits such as Cut Your Hair.

The band seem to be genuinely enjoying playing live again, and end their set with an astounding version of Witchi Tai To by Jim Pepper the acclaimed jazz musician. It may have been over two decades since they last played live in Manchester, but after an utterly brilliant gig from start to finish, the mutual appreciation between them and the audience is as strong as ever. Here’s hoping they don’t leave it another twenty two years to come back next time!

From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.