A normal Breeders set, like one in the '90s heyday, would have built up to "Cannonball," but at Mr. Smalls Friday night, the band rolled out the big gun early.
The '93 version of the Breeders -- Kim and Kelley Deal, Jim MacPherson and Josephine Wiggs, with violinist Carrie Bradley -- has reunited for a 20th anniversary of "Last Splash," the album that broke the band in the midst of the Nirvana-led alt-rock explosion.
"Last Splash" is one of the quirkier albums from that era, as anyone could tell Friday night, even if they were hearing it for the first time. There's certainly no getting bored with one prevailing style.
The well-known "Cannonball" is in that Pixies mode of arty rock that goes from sweet pop to a loud blast. The almost equally catchy "Divine Hammer" isn't far removed from the Go-Go's. "I Just Wanna Get Along" is a pop-punk take on '60s surf rock. And then there are the whimsical departures, like the drony "Mad Lucas," noise-rock instrumental "S.O.S." and country-pop ditty "Drivin on 9."
Although only a few dates into the tour, the Breeders pulled it off expertly, and with a friendly, self-deprecating vibe that matched the mood of the adoring crowd. The Deal twins, at 51, haven't lost any of the sweetness or edge to their voices, and despite the downtime, the nimble rhythm section had no problem locking into its groove.
After about 45 minutes of "Last Splash," the Breeders returned with a high-energy, seven-song encore that included Guided By Voices' punchy "Shocker in Gloomtown," punk-rock rager "Head to Toe" and the offbeat cover of "Happiness is a Warm Gun."
On Friday night, the DIY spirit of '93 held up nicely in '13.