Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Great Songs Remain, But Magic is Gone From Pixies 2014

The Pixies have now been on their reunion tour for longer than they were initially together in the late 80s and early 90s.

And while I wasn’t around to witness the first iteration of the band (I did see some great mid-90s Frank Black solo shows however), I’ve been front-and-center for the new Pixies, seeing them at New York’s Bowery Ballroom in 2004 and D.C.’s Constitution Hall in 2009.

The first show was kind of a mess, but the 2009 one was a 5-star classic. Sunday night’s show at Strathmore – a beautiful, wood-paneled classical-music hall in North Bethesda that Rachel and I attended with friends Lori and Ahron – was back to being a mixed bag.

It would take a hardened cynic or a non-fan of the dark indie act to deny how tight and enjoyable the Pixies’ greatest-hits set has become. Two of my favorites were played right near the beginning of the 33-song set: Trompe Le Monde’s “U-Mass” (“it’s educational”) and “Wave of Mutilation.”

Other highlights included drummer David Loverling’s “La La Love You,” “Here Comes Your Man,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” “Where is My Mind?,” “Crackity Jones,” and “Debaser.”

And while the songs were tight, there was almost no discernible hop in the three long-time members’ steps.

Kim Deal, perhaps mine (and everyone’s) favorite Pixie, has recently left the band. Nobody knows exactly under what circumstances, but I’ll assume they weren’t amicable. Arguably the band’s best song, the Deal-penned “Gigantic,” was not played. New bassist Paz Lenchantin, formerly of Billy Corgan’s post-Pumpkins band Zwan, offered backing vocals that serviceably filled in for the gigantic shoes of Deal, and she showed more enthusiasm than all the band members together.

But the subtraction of Kim Deal (combined with the endless chug of reunion cash-grab through over-priced merchandise and concert tickets) just made it feel like Pixies ’14 has lost much of that old magic.

***1/2 out of ***** stars

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