Live Review: THE PIXIES at the Music Box

Photo by Chris Powell

Live Review: 11/19 Pixies @ Music Box – Los Angeles, CA


[By Christopher Powell]

“One down.”  These were Kim Deal’s facetious words after finishing Trompe le Monde standout,

“U-Mass.” The tongue-in-cheek here stemming from the fact that the band came to a screeching halt in the middle of their first attempted song (“Bone Machine”, Surfer Rosa).

No, it’s not 1989 and the Pixies aren’t quite the band they once were but who can argue with a Saturday night chock-full of some of the best songs written this side of disco?

On this November evening at the Music Box, the group would thankfully get well past that one and put on a 32-song set ranging from classics, to deep cuts as well as some welcomed B-sides. Kim Deal let the crowd know that this particular night was a “special show just for you” and admitted it had been awhile since they had performed some on the songs that would be featured.

Calling it “special” may sound like routine massaging of the crowd ego but the show was in fact quite exclusive. The announcement of the gig was only made through an e-mail to fans of their website creating a rare opportunity to witness the indie rock pioneers in a small-capacity venue.

Despite that it may be past the Pixies prime, one thing for certain is these Massachusetts legends haven’t lost a bit of talent. Black Francis voice still enchants as he carries out the “oohs” in “Caribou” and haunts every bit the same as he screams the words, “Repent!”

Meanwhile, Joey Santiago (while never in question) undoubtedly showed he still had it, shredding into “Vamos”, even using his iPhone as a slide for flare. On the trap in back, enigmatic drummer turned magician-extraordinaire, Dave Lovering, was powering along.

Oh, and then there’s the aforementioned and truly bad ass, Kim Deal – her bass lines delightfully chunky and her voice as angelic as ever. I wouldn’t dare lie to you and deny that the tears I shed during the encore performance of “Gigantic”. Kim and Dave also represented the human element of the show attempting some silly back and forth banter between songs.

Francis (Charles Thompson) was, of course, stoic at best and a growing consciousness of his resemblance to Breaking Bad character Hank Schrader was alive and well. You can’t help but wonder if he made a tiny bit more of a show of himself how truly incredible their show could be. For example, the image of him standing still as he lays into the intense vocals of “Debaser” is simply dumbfounding. Alas, the guy is who he is and damn good at that.

Additional favorites on the night included an especially wonderful Neil Young cover, “Winterlong”, as perfect as ever “Monkey Gone to Heaven”, Come On Pilgrim great “The Holiday Song”, Fight Club famed “Where is My Mind?” and crowd-mover, “Gauge Away”. Conveniently, while this was a one-off from theirDoolittle shows of late, they ended up playing the entire album anyway.

So yes, it is 2011, the Pixies are in their 50s and they may need to take a set list one song at a time but there wasn’t an unhappy face in the audience that night that would have traded it for anything.