Last Night: Pixies at the Fillmore Auditorium (bonus review)

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For those with tickets to tonight's Pixies show, here's a bonus review with another perspective, to give you a clear idea of exactly what to expect this evening. If you haven't already check out Jon Solomon's review.

Fillmore Auditorium
Monday, November 16, 2009
Better than:
having whores in your head.

See more photos on the slideshow page.

With workman-like poise, Joey Santiago, Black Francis and David Lovering calmly and confidently prowled the big Fillmore stage in Denver last night, pulling off one of the most exciting and effective reunions American rock has ever seen. For the three sometimes eerily composed dudes in the Pixies, getting back together after so many years of acrimony to perform their heavy, eccentric classics that enlivened and inspired two generations of alternative, indie and punk bands seemes like a an enjoyable, lucrative decision. Conversely, ever-smiling Pixies bassist/backup-singer Kim Deal eagerly embraced the sold out crowd and her chance to finally play all those great songs again after a few years of mostly festivals gigs. Indeed, beer bottle in mouth after every song, widespread grin on her face and giddy comments (mostly ignored by her bandmates) abound, Deal's Pixies Reunion happiness made it seem as if her dream had just been granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It was beautiful.

As Deal and her mates materialized after a strange, prolonged video intro at 9 p.m. to a series of giant roars from the capacity audience, Deal grinned wildly and blurted out "b-sides!" before the Pixies launched into three of the most obscure tunes in their catalog, including "Manta Ray" and "It's Alright at My School." It was a welcome diversion from the much-advertised task at hand -- covering 1989's seminal indie-rock album, Doolittle, in its entirety - but a few of the Denver faithful felt inclined to shout "no b-sides! no more b-sides!" between songs. Still, the obscurities ("so obscure we had to learn them," Deal exclaimed) gave the band a chance to showcase Black Francis' powerful voice, which many in attendance commented was in better form than ever, before kicking off Doolittle with the hard-charging "Debaser," just one of the songs that grunge acts like Nirvana openly ripped off on their way to mega-stardom.

All four original members clad entirely in black, and Francis (who now closely resembles Andy Schneidkraut of Boulder's Albums on the Hill) joining Santiago in the shaved-head club, the Pixies soon revealed why they were probably the best rock band of the late-'80s and early-'90s, and Francis is indie-rock's Jerry Garcia, not only in body-type. Francis' diverse and outstanding rhythm guitar, and his impressive belting and all-out screaming of eccentric and intelligent lyrics, nicely juxtaposed Santiago's unique hardcore-surf guitar, Deal's thick, round bass and pretty vocals while Lovering tastefully pounded away. However, on Doolittle highlights like the crushing "No. 13 Baby" and fan-favorite "Hey," the group showed off it's penchant for stunning dynamic and rhythmic outbursts of distorted guitar and pounding drums, layering Francis' gigantic voice brilliantly.

During "Monkey Gone to Heaven," the surging crowd sang along with Francis word-for-word on the "man, devil, god" bridge, making the Fillmore feel like a place of evil worship, although the $40 posters featuring nothing but Doolittle's front cover made the evening partly feel like a Rolling Stones concert. Francis is an imposing, sinister, straight-faced and huge-voiced animal onstage; Santiago is simply calculated and professional (sort of Thurston Moore-meets-Dick Dale); and Deal never stopped smiling, finding something silly to say before and after every song, while Francis and Santiago stood silent and Lovering waited to click off the next number. With Deal the only giddy one, and Francis and Santiago at times playing with a total lack of interest that made me wonder if they were incredibly cool or just cashing in, it was sometimes tough to tell what this very pleasing Pixies reunion is "about," especially during a lagging version of "Where Is My Mind?" Regardless, the crisp, clean and loud Fillmore sound helped make this show unforgettable.

Wish I was going tonight, too.

Personal Bias:
I prefer the Fillmore in San Francisco. Gotta admit it. And it's not just the free apples.
Random Detail: The Pixies reportedly broke up in 1993 partly due to substance abuse, but Deal and Francis were sucking down beers all night.
By The Way: Witnessing Deal's happiness onstage as wonderful female accompaniment to Francis' evil genius, one has to wonder when Talking Heads bassist Tina Weymouth will get a similar reunion chance. It's now or never, David Byrne. I went to the Pixies show with a bunch of young Boulder college students who lamented on the way home that while the 40-something Pixies were "fucking amazing," it was hard not to wish their parents were that cool, as they're all the same age as the Pixies. Dammit, I want the same chance to complain, Mr. Byrne.


11/16/09 - Fillmore Auditorium
Denver, CO


1. Dancing the Manta Ray

2. Weird at My School

3. Bailey's Walk

4. Manta Ray

5. Debaser

6. Tame

7. Wave of Mutilation

8. I Bleed

9. Here Comes Your Man

10. Dead

11. Monkey Gone to Heaven

12. Mr. Grieves

13. Crackity Jones

14. La La Love You

15. No. 13 Baby

16. There Goes My Gun

17. Hey

18. Silver

19. Gouge Away



20. Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)

21. Into the White



22. Where is My Mind?

23. Something Against You 

24. Isla de Encanta

25. Nimrod's Son

26. Caribou

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