Louisville’s Lost No More: Pixies delight at the Palace

By BRADEN LAMMERS

All photos by C. Michael Stewart

For two years the band has been playing its 1989 classic “Doolittle” album –hailed by NME as the second-greatest album of all time. And this fall the Pixies –Frank Black, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering- began playing cities missed earlier in its U.S. tour.

Possibly under-appreciated during its original foray, the band is know for taking the two minute punk song, adding dynamic shifts –the highs and lows of soothing melodies mixed with furious energy- a dash of darkness and even a little humor.

The band bitterly split in the early 1990’s and may be more well-known to a younger generation as the band who inspired
world-famous acts like Nirvana and Radiohead
.
They reached the dubious and rarified status as a band, unknown in their brilliance until they were gone.

Thankfully, they’re not gone.

And since the Pixies reunited in 2004 and began touring again, it has given those who recognized the band’s influence on subsequent alternative rock goliaths, or who have been fans since Doolittle was released 22 years ago, the chance to watch the foursome take the stage.

There is always the fear that comes with watching a “great” band play after their peak; that they will play their songs more like
50-year-old former musicians than the 20-somethings they were when they created the album.

For one of the most influential alt-punk bands of all time, these Pixie are far from being washed up. Getting to see them live was an opportunity akin to watching Van Gogh paint in Arles or watching Ingmar Bergman on the set of the Seventh Sign.

Their performance delivered. This is a band still at their peak.

They may be performing better than the sets they played in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when tension and animosity was no doubt pervasive on the stage. And knowing that many in the crowd had been waiting so long to see the Pixies live, the band calmed them before they ever played a song.

The opening of the show consisted of about five minutes of 1929 silent, surrealist short-film, “Un Chien Andalou,” which inspired
Black to write the song “Debaser.”
The film also served as an introduction to anyone in the audience not familiar with the band. Fragmented clips with no logical, linear plot and slightly disturbing images mirrored the band’s own unorthodox blending of music styles, melodies and lyrics that defines their distinct sound.

The Pixies eased the audience into their performance and played four B-side tracks related to the “Doolittle” album. Then, they began to play “Doolittle” in its entirety.

By “Doolittle’s” second track “Tame,” and with the crowd just being subjected to Black’s unmistakeable howl, they could contain
themselves no longer and responded with their own shrieks of appreciation.
The ovation lasted maybe a minute before the audience settled back in, eagerly awaiting the next song.

After wrapping up “Doolittle” the band came out for encores, playing a few more B-side tracks, and then launched into well-known tracks off other albums, including maybe their most popular song “Where is my Mind?”

The audience was elated.

The only criticism that can be offered about the Pixies’ performance is the band played two versions of “Wave of Mutilation” (the second version during their encore) when they could have used the opportunity to play another track yet unheard by those who had waited so long to see alt icons in person.

Despite the repeat, when the lights went up there wasn’t a disappointed face among the crowd in what was a “lost city” no longer. Remaining dates for the Pixies’ “Lost Cities” leg of the Doolittle tour:

Nov. 14 Orpheum Theatre, Memphis, Tenn.

Nov. 15 Bricktown Events Center, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Nov. 16 Santa Fe Center, Sante Fe, N.M.

Nov. 18 Fox Theatre, Bakersfield, Calif.

Nov. 20 The Uptown Theatre, Napa, Calif.

Nov. 21 Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz, Calif.

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About hoosierhits
The music blog of the News and Tribune, Jeffersonville & New Albany, Ind.

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