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The Pixies 
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 of reaction.

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 received.

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. 

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