Mesa Amphitheatre, Az 9/20/04
By Zane Ewton
Most rock concerts are a good time but
some can be so exciting that you will want to quit your job, drop out of
school, pick up a guitar and try to change the world. That may be
somewhat melodramatic but the Pixies are a band that warrants that type
On one of the first dates of their official
North American reunion tour, the Pixies made a stop in Mesa, Arizona and
proceeded to shake the earth beneath us. The band took the stage
and proved why this is the most important tour of the year by roaring through
a set of great songs that never failed to please.
The Pixies had every single person in attendance
wrapped around their little fingers; each song took an already enthusiastic
crowd and whipped them into a frenzy. Listening to a CD is one thing
but with the Pixies the songs gain so much power live, each one rising
in emotion and strength.
The Distillers opened the show to an attentive
audience but even lead singer Brody Dalle thanked the crowd for waiting
patiently, because she was waiting too. The Distillers weren’t messing
around though and played a quick, rocking set that the crowd got into.
The wait between bands was short, as soon
as the house lights came down the Pixies were on their way onstage in single
file. The stage was barely ornamented with just a few lights, a plain
backdrop and four dead-tree props with lights. Wasting no time, the
band broke into “Is She Weird” and never broke stride through the hour
and a half show.
Mesa has a 10 o’clock curfew but the Pixies
packed in as many songs as possible, limiting the in-between song chatter
for the occasional “Thanks!” from Kim Deal.
When you have a catalog of material like
The Pixies, each song turns into a highlight. Relying heavily on
Surfer Rosa and Doolittle they stuck to mostly well known
material. The set list read like a greatest hits album, including
“Monkey Gone to Heaven”, “Here Comes Your Man”, “Caribou”, “Broken Face”,
“Nimrod’s Son” and so many others.
During “Vamos” guitarist Joey Santiago
did a quick feedback solo by leaving the guitar on a stand and using a
drumstick to illicit strange noises, it was one of the few moments that
the band strayed from the urgency felt in each song.
Sonically, The Pixies took the sound we
are used to from the records and magnified it. David Lovering’s drumming
really comes alive on stage and Black Francis’ voice is as sharp and abrasive
as it was in 1988. That is what was so great about this show, the
band sounded incredible, the songs are fantastic, and the band really seemed
to enjoy playing and appeared genuinely surprised to see the reaction they
The crowd was varied in age and demographics,
everybody came together to celebrate and were excited to be packed into
the soldout amphitheatre. This was the first chance for many fans
to see the Pixies, they screamed for “Debaser” and Kim Deal’s excellent
“Gigantic” but were a little confused by the lesser known but just as pleasing
“Cactus” and a beautiful version of Neil Young’s “Winterlong.”
As many fans that were new, there was
an equal number who had been with the band from the beginning, excitedly
sharing their stories of past shows and unafraid to show their receding
hairline. This show was definitely a great experience and the fans
were left wanting more after the encore of “In Heaven” and the dreamlike
“Where is My Mind?” ended the show. The Pixies were washed in appreciation
and love from the audience. They earned it on this night!
It is hard to say anything more than,
“You have to see the Pixies live!” I was nervous when the British
press was treating the reunion like the second coming. Reunion tours
are terrible but the Pixies deliver the goods and are doing the reunion
tour thing the right way. It’s almost like they never left, but make
sure you see them before they're gone again.
music and listen to samples for The Pixies
the Pixiesmusic.com, the leading unofficial site for The Pixies to learn
more and see when they are coming to a town near you.