Pavement close their Roundhouse residency on a high

Your favourite band’s favourite band celebrate their 30th birthday with a tour through the alt-rock history they helped write

After 30 years of every great indie band sounding a little bit like Pavement, it’s good to know Pavement still sound like no one else. Breaking up and reforming and then breaking up again, the band that finally hit London’s Roundhouse for three nights of nostalgia felt like lighting being crammed back in the bottle – an all too rare chance to see alt-rock history being remade. 

As Bob Nastanovich screamed “fight this generation” to a Gen X crowd raised on angst and mellowed on apathy, it briefly seemed odd that Pavement had aged at all. So rooted in the Dazed And Confused era they helped create, seeing them older and wiser made no sense – perfect double header tracks ‘Major Leagues’ and ‘Stereo’ moving the whole room right back to the mid 90s from the start. 

Stomping the centre stage like they were still in a Stockton garage, Stephen Malkmus and Spiral Stairs sounded even better than they do on the records – dualling slacker guitars in bursts of lo-fi wooze and collage rock aggression. But no one wants to see Pavement sounding slick. Luckily, the band might have refined their sound but they’re still just as scrappy as ever. 

When Mark Ibold hit a dud note during the shimmery intro to ‘Grounded’, Malkmus stops the song and calls him out (before laughingly realising that he started in the wrong key himself). ‘Unfair’ got bumped off the setlist (“let’s just finish on ‘Shady Lane’ instead…”), as did ‘AT&T’, but crowd-favourite ‘Gold Soundz’ ended up getting played instead even though it wasn’t written down. 

If they were making it all up as they went along, you’d only half know it. Pauses between songs got weird (Spiral Stairs barking like a dog, Ibold complaining that all their songs start in D, Malkmus doing a Matthew McConaughey impression…), but they never slowed anything down. Packing 25 tracks into almost two hours, this was Pavement doing a 30th anniversary show properly – cherry picking the best of all five albums to fill a perfect set with precision. 

Returning for a flawless encore of ‘Range Life’, ‘Spit On A Stranger’, ‘Conduit For Sale!’ and ‘Stop Breathin’ (also to bring on a couple of kids to throw handfuls of signed ping pong balls into the crowd), Pavement ended night three at The Roundhouse exactly as everyone wanted them to. As finely tuned as you’d expect after 30 years spent shaping the past, present and future of alt-rock, but still just as scrappy and loud and dangerous and weird as ever. 

Pavement are continuing their 30th anniversary tour in Dublin on the 10-11 November. Find tickets for Pavement here.