The Pixies rock Doolittle and B-sides for Boston faithful

A review of The Pixies at the Citi Wang Theatre on November 27, 2009

, Managing Editor

The Pixies have never been a group that fit into the “norm”. The elements that make up the group (Frank Black’s rampant howling vocals, Joey Santiago’s distinctively irregular guitar playing, and the off-beat lyrical content) have always placed the Pixies in a class of their own. However, in their latest reunion tour they’re participating in something that has become quite the norm of late: playing a classic album in its entirety. However, leave it to the Pixies to even put a twist on this new fad. While other groups have cushioned their album-play with hits the Boston alt-rock icons, who hit the Wang Theatre for the 20th anniversary of Doolittle, decided to open with B-sides from the album.

Bassist Kim Deal, the only member of the band to address the audience all night, interestingly uttered “some of the B sides were so obscure we had to learn them” before “Bailey’s Walk”. One would wonder why the foursome wouldn’t focus their energy on some of their more popular songs, which they likely wouldn’t have to re-learn? Nevertheless, the band’s consistently tight sound made it seem like they’d been practicing the songs for years.

After “Manta Ray”, The Pixies ripped into Doolittle without forewarning with Deal’s bouncy bassline to “Debaser” kicking things off. One could’ve closed their eyes during the album’s performance and thought they were listening to their iPod, especially because there was little dialogue between songs. The band was spot on with their sound and stepped right up to even the most challenging of requirements as Black effortlessly let his voice rage all over “Tame” and David Lovering laid down his fills with such force on “Wave of Mutilation”. All the while Deal gave constant status updates, ageing herself by stating which “side” of the record they were on. Her addresses would’ve been pointless if they weren’t the only dialogue the band had with the audience all evening. Although, they were still kind of pointless (“It’s good to be back in Boston” would’ve worked much better). However, anyone going in to a Pixies concert looking for dialogue is at the wrong show. What the group lacks in audience engagement they more than make up for with their sound.

After finishing off the record the band reappeared for the highlight of the show, which came in the form of “Into the White”. A heavy fog fumed from the smoke machines on the backlit stage, engulfing the band and much of the orchestra section. Deal was barely visible through the cloud but her vocals echoed out as a strobe flashed through the haze during the song’s coda.
The band reappeared again with crowd-pleasers “Where is My Mind?” and “Gigantic”, sandwiching Santiago’s spectacle of guitar effects on “Vamos”. However, even after playing 26 songs and their finest album, when they left again, this time for good, it seemed too soon. With little time taken for improvisation and even less for dialogue it was hard to believe the show was already over when the time unfortunately came. Touring in celebration of Doolittle’s 20th anniversary, the Pixies were throwing a party that the thousands of jubilant fans in attendance wished would go all night. However, every party has a pooper. In this case it was the host.

Rising star Jay Reatard opened the show with a punk rock party of his own.


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