The Pixies deliver fine high energy show on third last night of tour.
Three quarters of the original Pixies (plus a new bassist) hit the stage at the Burton Cummings Theatre on Thursday with a high energy, 105-minute extravaganza of visual and musical delight.
Original bassist, Kim Deal, left the band in 2013 but it was no big deal because her replacement, Paz Lenchantin, filled her shoes nicely.
Deal left the band on good terms. She was replaced by Kim Shattuck for a few months until Lenchantin took over.
Last year, they also released another album.
The Pixies formed in 1986 in Boston, Massachusetts, and had such an impact on their audiences that they became the proverbial overnight success. This was back in the day when cassettes were popular and fans were passing around and sharing tapes.
The band had recorded a 17-song demo called ‘The Purple Tape’. Word (and cassettes) spread quickly and soon enough they launched a career of putting out powerful recordings and even more powerful and high energy live shows. They have been cited as influences for bands such as Nirvana.
I spoke with their lighting tech, Myles Mangino, who put together a brilliant light show using throw away objects. These included giant silver Christmas tree balls cut in half above the stage that used to be hanging in Rockefeller Center in New York, and old projection TV lenses, which he put a call out for and received 48 calls from people who just wanted to get rid of the old monstrosities.
Only 30 of the screens were used for this show based on the size of the stage. He shone the spotlights through these screens, and reflected spotlights onto them, making for a dazzling effect.
Mangino has been with the band since the beginning (although they did take a 10-year hiatus before reforming in 2004). They usually give him the freedom to do what he likes in terms of designing a light show.
On the last tour, they gave him a budget with which he spent three months travelling around and making some videos to go along with the tunes for a backdrop, and I must say (having a background in making experimental videos) it was a nice touch to complement the music. That show played the concert hall a few years back.
The tour has been doing well, selling out many venues despite the fact that Kim Deal left the band. Some fans aren’t too happy about this but to me, it’s no big deal. As they say, ‘the show must go on’. The new girl on the block learned the licks and did a wonderful job.
Lead vocalist and guitarist, Black Francis, still has amazing pipes and has quite the range in his voice, at times doing some interesting ‘controlled screaming’ to great effect. He started off with electric guitar but switched to acoustic for a good chunk of the middle of the show.
Joey Santiago did some pretty interesting lead guitar riffs and his solo was quite dynamic. Drummer David Lovering’s back beat was very powerful and solid, and he even sang one of the tunes. The combination of these four had the crowd on their feet from the moment they hit the stage.
I started off on the floor, but then went up to the 1st balcony, and the sound was very good on both levels. Indeed, with the brilliant light show, the great sound and their captivating stage presence and well crafted tunes, it made for a concert that will be remembered by many for years.
The band had a setlist and started off following it, but after about ten songs, they just did whatever felt right for the audience.
Apparently, Francis is good at reading the crowd and he has certain cues to tell his fellow musicians (and the light tech) what to play next (such as a monkey gesture to play the song Monkey Gone to Heaven). Eventually they did get back to the set list though.
Openers Royal Blood were very interesting and had many fans in the audience. They even received a standing ovation halfway through their set.
The band consists of drum and bass, although it was like no bass I’ve ever heard before. If you weren’t looking, you would think he was playing a guitar. At first I thought I was hearing a guitar until I realized there were only four strings. Then, I could hear the bass in there and thought that they were playing along to a recorded guitar. I was baffled.
After the set, I spoke with the sound man who explained what was going on. The bass was played through a harmonizer and other effects. Very cool stuff.
All photos by Doug Kretchmer