By Alex Moore
Though this will likely be mere reinforcement for Pixies loyalists who have already made up their minds, it needs to be stated for those on the fence: this is a tour that any and every Pixies fan should see. The group have refused to become another novelty act, simply playing the hits (though most major singles made their way into the setlist), feeding the crowd the same lines each night, and calling it an evening. Instead, the Pixies are taking an approach as unique as the band itself, playing only a few static tracks and leaving the rest up to improvisation, whim and crowd request. This clever creativity and punk rock attitude show that the band hasn’t deviated from its ideals a bit, even if crowds have gotten larger and decades have passed.
The opening one-two punch of Surfer Rosa (4AD Records) track “Bone Machine” and the classic “Waves of Mutilation” signified that Black Francis and crew haven’t lost any of the signature sarcasm and charm that fans fell in love with all those years ago. As the set progressed, songs ranged from angst-ridden to upbeat, surreal to serene. The slow, minimalistic “In Heaven” was somehow more sinister than its original appearance in the classic David Lynch film Eraserhead, and the inclusion of “La La Love You” made for a welcome surprise. The performance climaxed in a hair-raising final chorus of “Where is my Mind?” that saw the crowd temporarily relieve Francis of vocal duties. By the time the show concluded, the Pixies played a staggering 34 songs.
Seemingly never missing a note, the Pixies’ sound was just as tight as it’s always been. While bassist Kim Deal is certainly missed, newcomer Paz Lenchantin is more than capable of filling the vacancy. Having contributed to notable groups such as A Perfect Circle and Queens of the Stone Age, Lenchantin’s playing style added a quiet subtlety that served as an antithesis to Black Francis’ high-energy, manic vocal style.
Pixies may have reached their peak commercial popularity in the 1990s, but judging by the sheer amount of fans who turned up to see the beloved alt-rockers, you’d never know it. The group hasn’t lost an ounce of talent or passion through the years, and witnessing the performance of a musical force like the Pixies is something every music lover should make a priority. Whether you’re just discovering the band, or simply want to relive some old memories, this tour is an easy recommendation.