Pixies Massey Hall, Toronto ON April 18
Published Apr 19, 2011You have to be doing something right when your show begins with a standing ovation. The show technically began when the trailer for Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalì's Un Chien Andalou began playing on a massive onstage screen, but it wasn't until the lights were dimmed and the Pixies actually took the stage, to thunderous audience appreciation, that the set was really under way.
"We're going to start with the B-sides," announced Kim Deal, as they wowed with Doolittle obscurities "Dancing the Manta Ray," "Weird at My School," "Bailey's Walk" and "Manta Ray," all of which rang with one truth: the Pixies still got it. From the opening strains of "Dancing," it was clear that Black Francis's voice is only getting better with age. His screams and wails, and especially his falsetto, are all wonderfully intact, as Francis proved on set highlights "Mr. Grieves," "Hey" and especially "Monkey Gone to Heaven," in which he perfectly punctuated the lyric "God is seven" with his trademark howl.
Through the course of the evening, the band of course played the entire Doolittle in order, but it was the sheer enthusiasm with which they played it that seemed to ignite the audience. Pixies performed all the little details that make the album so special -- the "shake your butt!" at the start of "La La Love You," the piercing feedback that begins "There Goes My Gun" -- but there was an extra something special about the show.
Maybe it was the fact that it was 22 years ago to the day that the album was born, but when the band hit the final ringing note of "Gouge Away," put down their instruments, and walked, houselights up, to the front of the stage to acknowledge the crowd, it was a magical moment of mutual gratitude that smacked of genuine adoration from both sides. That the Pixies came back out for a seven-song encore -- including B-side "Into the White," Neil Young cover "Winterlong" and hits "Where Is My Mind?" and "Gigantic" -- just seemed to prove the band's continued relevance, and more importantly, their excellence.