Concert Review: Pixies Reunite In MPLS (filter-mag.com)
I was a lucky one.
At the Fine Line
Filter Grade: 99%
“This is surreal,” I remarked to no one in particular, standing in an alley behind the Fine Line Café in Downtown Minneapolis. I was waiting in line for the Pixies first performance in 12 years; “Surreal” was an understatement. That about 700 of us lucky bastards with tickets were about to see the most important rock band of the last 25 years in a club that usually accommodates artists like Neil Finn, the Stills, and silly local cover bands like Boogie Wonderland...well, that just seemed impossible--maybe even wrong.
But fuckit. Maybe hell’s freezing up as I write this, because we were about to see the impossibly reunited Pixies. The fucking Pixies! At around eight o’ clock, the downtown city lights began to brighten--and the long line of past, present and future hipsters gradually began to move forward, disappearing into the doors of the ridiculous, a land where God-only-knows-what was actually about to happen. After finally entering the doors (and a forgettable opening set by...oh, whoever), we the bright-eyed anxiously stared up at the roadies as they tuned up. Soon enough, the stage was empty, fully prepared for the impossibility it was about to bear.
A few scattered screams. A nervous tension. A tangible anticipation. And then all exploded. The stage doors swung open and a beaming Kim Deal emerged on stage, followed by one larger-than-life Frank Black, a longhaired David Lovering, and a bald and goateed Joey Santiago. The crowd erupted. There they were: The Pixies. It was as if Jesus himself had just come back, waiting for the church to calm down before delivering his first sermon in a couple of millennia.
Fog machines above the stage came to life as multicolored Vari-lights focused their red, green and white beams over the stage and into the audience. Waiting for the first notes, the crowd continued to scream, countless raised hands clapping in ecstatic disbelief. People were crying. Frank Black was smiling. Then came the immediately recognized drums and bass of “Bone Machine.” The cheers only grew louder as Santiago ripped out his dissonant guitar, and Frank began to screech out the song’s first verse. What followed was a tremendous performance that, even if you robbed it of its undeniable historical value, was fucking tremendous. Period.
When Lovering threw Santiago his drumstick in the middle of “Vamos,” the guitarist effortlessly caught the thing and went on to use it in a blistering solo. “This is a song we never play,” said Kim coyly, just before Lovering kicked out the upbeat “La La Love You.” All four affectionately added giddy “I love yous” for the chorus. Frank and Kim joked and laughed while he tuned up and she lit a cigarette. They looked happy, even joyous, and any skeptical ideas any of us had about this unlikely reunion floated away like a monkey gone to...
The shocked crowd stood silent as Kim sung alone eerily for “In Heaven.” The Black Francis who never would have let her sing his song years ago was instead standing with his back turned to the audience. Then came a seamless transition to the first chords of “Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf).” Well, almost seamless.
The Santiago guitar line I’d heard so many times over Frank’s acoustic picking was immediately mangled and off-key. Santiago grimaced and scrambled to find the right notes. Within seconds, the excellence had returned, but those few moments reminded me that the Pixies were human, and this was a first gig of sorts. With a stirring rendition of “Where is my Mind” (complete with crowd “ooohs” so loud the band seemed confused as to where they were all coming from) and a playful version of “Into the White,” the emotionally and physically exhausting show was unfortunately over. The Pixies briefly gathered together at the edge of the stage, waving, shaking hands, and smiling. Like a good politician, Kim lingered the longest to shake every hand she could while moving across the empty stage and back out the stage doors, returning to celebrate with her band reunited.
After an unforgettable night, I am happy to report that Frank Black can still scream, Kim Deal’s still adorable, Joey Santiago looks and plays nothing short of badass, and David Lovering drums to perfection. The Pixies still got it, and I don’t think they’ll be breaking up again anytime soon. I’m not a religious man, but thank you Lord. That was amazing.