JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

April 29, 2017
The Bomb Factory
Dallas, TX USA
Review by David N. Lindsey
Photos by Joseph De Leon

Pixies

Pixies Wows Sold Out Audience

Opening for a band that has a devout following like The Pixies can't be any easy gig, but New York's Public Access TV held their own. The four piece played a nice  half hour set of agreeable power-pop. Nothing ground-breaking, but it is nice to see a band with some great vocal harmonies that were Doo Wop-meets ELO that seem sincere. They were a bit like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers back when they were hungry and hadn't lost their edge, but with fuzzy surf guitar instead of Byrdsian jangle. They should cut loose a bit more and veer toward the other (Johnny Thunder's) Heartbreakers.

It takes  a  lot of guts to open your set with a song you know is a sure fire closing number. After all "Where is My Mind?" was the song playing as buildings exploded in the final scene of 'Fight Club'. If you can end a movie with that, its a safe bet you can close a concert with it... From the opening acoustic chords the rapt sold out crowd chimed in full volume  with the song's trademark whoo-oohs. Pixies guitarist-singer Black Francis scat delivery flowed as the band put in a weighty undertow groove behind him. Dressed in a black suit with black frame glasses Francis and guitarist Joey Santingo, drummer David Lovering, and bassist Paz Lenchantin played  a 30 plus song set that delivered.

Every member had a chance to shine. Santiago brought fire to ever song in the set, but his extended solo on "Vamos" is the stuff on which legends are built. At times he was coaxing sounds not of this earth out of his guitar, while at times seemingly not touching the strings or by simply manipulating the pick-up switch. Drummer David Lovering sang "La La Love You" with boyish enthusiasm for his moment in the sun. With its extended outro in a live setting it goes beyond novelty and you realize what a grooving shuffling song it really is. Lovering playing has always been solid, but a bit reserved, but tonight he seemed to be really going for it. Journeyman bassist/vocalist Paz Lenchantin has found a home! Her playing is rock solid and she and Francis' vocals mesh in classic Pixies Harmonies. Especially on the cover of Neil Young's "Winterlong" and "Wave of Mutilation" during which she flashed her killer of a smile at the crowd. Her strong lead vocal on the new "All I Think About Now" were well received. So she hasn't been there since day one, whats the big deal? She's here now, and the Pixies are all the better for it.

Black Francis is of course the driving force, a great songwriter, whose vocals can shift from an in-human scream to a plaintive whisper with ease. His 'lemme tell ya a story' preacher like delivery on "Monkey Gone to Heaven" was commanding. He played acoustic for the first nine songs, but few people this side of Pete Townshend know how to really rock an acoustic guitar, but Black Francis is one. When he did strap on the electric he and Joey displayed some of their intertwining guitar chemistry, but I'd have liked to have seen more of it.

The stage and light set up was well suited for the band. On "Monkey Gone To Heaven" the lights shifted from encircling Francis in an white angelic halo to a sinister red from below as he screamed the lines about 'the devil is six'. The band's white hot tear through the Jesus and Mary Chain's surf tune "Head On" hit like a Tsunami and the white hot pulsing lights matched the sound. The songs from the bands recent Head Carrier LP were spread throughout  fit nicely with the bands body of work, some only need the passing of time to be classic Pixies. Some songs were a bit fast or heavier than recordings, which benefited some songs like "Debaser" while "Winterlong" lost some of its lighthearted swing feel, but benefited from Joey's blistering solo.

After incendiary versions of "Rock Music," "Tame" and "Hey" the band took their bows center stage and literally disappeared in (machine driven) a puff of smoke. As the sea of smoke and blistering white lights engulfed the bomb factory, their shadowy figures re-emerged on stage for a one song encore to blast through a raging "Into the White." Paz's haunting vocals did justice to this Pixies B-side hidden gem. So from opening with a sure-fire closer, to closing with a B-side,you never really know what to expect from the Pixies, except that it'll be great.