Monday, November 21st 2011
Shows: The Pixies
As part of what is supposedly the final leg of the Pixies’ Doolittle anniversary tour, the band mapped out a brief jaunt through the United States to cities that they have never performed in, cleverly titled the “Lost Cities” tour.
Tuesday night the Pixies stopped in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown Events Center for a run through the seminal album and a few other fan-favorites from the rest of the group’s catalog.
After a brief, completely forgettable set by Imaginary Cities, the Pixies arrived on stage with a string of Doolittle b-sides. As Kim Deal greeted the crowd, she introduced each b-side, declaring it “more obscure than the last.” Obscure or not, most in the crowd seemed to have no problem bouncing up and down to Dancing the Manta Ray and Weird At My School.
Following the mini-marathon of b-sides, Deal once again spoke to the crowd and reminded them that tonight they were going to play Doolittle front to back. And that’s exactly what happened next.
Track after track the band played on, sounding like almost a direct copy of the record. The songs translate well in a live setting, but the most impressive thing is how well the album has aged.
Tame’s quiet/loud dynamic still sounds fresh, and Black Francis’ vocal delivery was spot on. Each time the song’s frenetic chorus would come around, the crowd’s energy would explode before lowering back down with the music.
Black Francis has said in interviews that Here Comes Your Man used to embarrass him, but he seemed more than happy to play the track for the Oklahoma crowd. During the track the huge video screen behind the band lit up with pre-recorded headshot footage of the group bobbing along and mouthing the song’s lyrics. The song is definitely a fan favorite, and the surf rock guitar and insanely catchy vocal melody sounded great with the audience singing along.
Monkey Gone to Heaven was propelled by Deal’s infectious bass line, and Francis still sounded absolutely ferocious screaming the song’s unforgettable “THEN GOD IS 7” lyrical segment. Just to help solidify the lyrics, giant flashing 7s appeared on the video screen behind them, lighting up an entire crowd with their fists in the air.
Allowing a bit of time to tune up between tracks, the Pixies ran through Doolittle in just a little under 45 minutes. Counting the b-side party, the Pixies’ main set lasted about an hour before the band took in the applause and exited the stage.
After appearing in the Doolittle set, Wave of Mutilation made a second appearance opening the encore, this time as the UK Surf version. Much slower than the original, the song’s shimmering guitar and much quieter drum track allowed the vocals to come to the forefront, encouraging the crowd to sing along.
Where Is My Mind? and Gigantic closed out the evening, offering a quick one-two punch of two of Surfer Rosa’s most beloved songs. Mind inspired more than a few in the crowd to raise their lighters into the air as Francis’ poured the energy he had left into the song. Gigantic gave Kim Deal a chance to take the spotlight, and as she did so she wished each member of the band and everyone in the crowd a good night.
Time has been kind to both the Pixies and Doolittle. For the entirety of their set, the band sounded precisely like they do on record – harmonies sounded great, Kim Deal’s elastic bass lines are just as irresistible as ever and Black Francis’ voice still sounds on the verge of breaking when he screams. If you love Doolittle or if the Pixies hold a special place in your heart, this tour is for you. On the flip side, if you are just a casual fan, the band may come across as somewhat boring on stage, there’s not much crowd interaction and the band seems pretty reserved up on stage.
As good as Doolittle sounded live, it seems a bit odd that the band has toured in support of the album’s 20th anniversary for more than two years. It’s time for something new guys. Perhaps hit the road again with Trompe le Monde? We can hope, right?
Keep track of the Pixies at their official site.