June 15th 2005 @ Agganis Boston
On the back end of their eleven-city US reunion tour, the Pixies landed on
the Boston stage behind illuminated metallic lollipops. The band seemed
pleasantly surprised to see the mixed crowd burst in applause, full of
high school punk prepsters and ex-punk rockers who now have real jobs.
The group dressed as if they had missed the last decade in a time warp,
walking around awkwardly in dated clothing. After the Pixies broke up in
1992, front man Black Francis (aka Charles Michael Kitteridge Thompson
IV) said he would “need an organ transplant”
when asked if would reunite with fellow band members. Corporate
sponsorship may have swayed Black's opinion, but whatever the reason,
these guys seemed excited to be back on tour and at times seemed as
enjoyably campy as the Brady Bunch.
The Pixies were formed in 1986 by Boston roommates, Black Francis and Joey
Santiago. At the show, Black looked more like Red Sox pitcher David
Wells than a typical front man. Santiago absolutely abused his guitar,
at one point slapping it with a drumstick during “Vamos.” Bassist Kim
Deal sometimes smiled like a giddy school girl, other times playing it
impossibly cool as she casually smoked a cigarette without missing a
riff. Drummer Dave Lovering was so overwhelmed by the ovation that he
took a photo of the crowd, before the band even played a note. The
Pixies lived up to their reputation, showing fans that although they may
be visually older, fatter, and balder, they could still bring it.
The band opened strong with songs like “Bone Machine,” then ripped through the repertoire
as if they needed to make curfew along with the rest of the high school
kids in the crowd. Deal hit the high notes perfectly during “Where Is My
Mind,” as the crowd happily sang along. Black’s voice resonated
throughout the arena, demonstrating his mastery of mixing ambient music
and strong chord progressions behind dynamic vocals that paved the way
for bands such as Radiohead and Coldplay. He proved he could still easily transition
from the piercing screams of “Debaser,” to holding the harmony during
“Monkey Gone to Heaven” and “La La Love You.” His voice gift wrapped the
Pixies’ famous style of controlled aggression.
The lighting was well choreographed and unpredictable, unlike most
concerts. The spotlights did not simply highlight the featured artist
during solos. The stage lights did not predictably flash when the
cymbals crashed. Instead, the minimalist lighting effects captured the
mood of each song. There was little break between songs, but the clever
lighting technique created smooth transitions, keeping the show focused
and the audience engaged. Kurt Cobain once said that there wouldn’t be a
Nirvana if there hadn’t been the Pixies. It was pleasantly surprising
that a band that influenced so many could still put on a great show.
Money may or may not heal old wounds, but it seemed that band and
audience alike had a blast picking up where they’d left off years ago.
The Pixies will tour Europe later this summer.
-Pratik R. Patel