By John Curley
Pixies’ show at New York City's Webster Hall on Monday, December 9th was one of those wonderful gigs that remind you of why you fell in love with music in the first place. It’s a genuine shame that everyone reading this could not have been there to experience it live. The show had a fantastic 1990s vibe. The floor in front of the stage was packed with the fans standing shoulder to shoulder, and they were ready to rock from the word go. It seemed that everyone’s eyes were riveted to the stage for the duration of the show. The crowd appeared to understand that they were witnessing something very special. As a result, very few members of the crowd were seen holding up their phones to film the gig. They wanted to experience the show live and to live in the moment.
Opening the proceedings was Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses. Accompanying Hersh were former Throwing Muses bassist Fred Abong and 50FootWave drummer Rob Ahlers. The early-arriving audience had crowded the floor in front of the stage by the time that Hersh and her band took the stage. Hersh did not disappoint. Her nine-song, 30-minute set was met with a great deal of enthusiasm from the crowd. The highlight of Hersh’s set was a scintillating performance of “Mississippi Kite.”
Following an interval of about 30 minutes, Pixies, who are touring behind new album Beneath The Eyrie, took the stage, which was partially covered in a dry ice fog, to a massive roar from the very enthusiastic crowd. The band – lead guitarist Joey Santiago, rhythm guitarist/lead vocalist Black Francis, drummer David Lovering and bassist/vocalist Paz Lenchantin – appeared to be feeding off of the energy from the crowd. And they proceeded to deliver a show that was chock full of highlights.
The performance of “The Holiday Song” was positively incendiary and the band, particularly Santiago and Lovering, were giving it their all. It nearly blew the roof off the place and was rewarded with a massive roar from the sold-out crowd. “Vamos” provided Santiago his spotlight moment to display his considerable guitar prowess. The crowd sang along with a full-throated roar to “Nimrod’s Son,” particularly the “You are the son of a motherf---er” bit. A perfect “Here Comes Your Man” was a full-on band effort, and the crowd loved it. The audience sang along with Lenchantin’s soothing backing vocal during “Where Is My Mind?,” creating a beautiful chorus of voices. The performance of the song featured stellar guitar work from Santiago and got a huge hand from the crowd. An outstanding “Caribou” featured great work from Santiago and Lovering and drove the crowd into a frenzy. “On Graveyard Hill,” the lead single from the new album, received a fiery performance and got a terrific reaction. An incredible “Monkey Gone To Heaven” had the crowd singing along at such volume that they almost drowned out the band. The fantastic “Velouria” featured Lenchantin and Francis on vocals and, again, had the crowd singing along. The new song “Catfish Kate” was given a fantastic airing. It had a nice vocal by Francis and was rewarded with a big cheer from the audience.
One thing that was clear at the show is that the fans have fully accepted Lenchantin as a member of the band. She has become a fan favorite and the cries of “We love you, Paz!” at the show were many. Lenchantin’s bass featured prominently on both “This Is My Fate” and “Gouge Away.” The latter was underpinned by Lenchantin’s pounding bass and Lovering’s rock-solid drumming, which set the foundation for Santiago’s distorted guitar and Francis’ perfect vocal. And the crowd, yet again, echoed every one of Francis’ vocals back to him.
“In The Arms Of Mrs. Mark Of Cain” had a prerecorded synth bit at the start and then evolved into a trebly rocker. The crowd loved the band’s terrific effort on “Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf).” The brief take on “Mr. Grieves” also received a good reaction from the crowd. Santiago’s guitar work was the spark that drove “Blown Away.” And then, the last three songs in the set each ratcheted up the energy level of the crowd to new heights. A terrific “Bone Machine” got a big reaction. The incendiary “Debaser” moved the crowd on the floor to be very active, and many of them were singing along as loud as possible. Santiago’s guitar work during the song was outstanding. And it featured nice vocal interplay between Francis and Lenchantin. The set closer, “Planet Of Sound,” was both incredible and very loud. The crowd roared throughout and continued cheering as the band took their bows and left the stage. Pixies had performed 37 songs in their two hours onstage. And they never let up, storming from one song into another. And that’s no small feat for a band that celebrated its 33rd anniversary this year.
Kristin Hersh’s upcoming appearances can be found at https://www.kristinhersh.com/appearances/.
Pixies’ North American tour ended tonight, Thursday, December 12th, in Toronto. The band will be off of the road in January and resumes their tour in February with shows in Japan. Full tour dates can be found in the Tour section at https://www.pixiesmusic.com/.
Kristin Hersh’s setlist was as follows:
Sunray Venus (Throwing Muses Song)
No Shade In Shadow
Limbo (Throwing Muses Song
Pixies’ setlist was as follows:
Break My Body
Brick Is Red
The Holiday Song
Bird Of Prey
Here Comes Your Man
Where Is My Mind?
Los Surfers Muertos
Cecilia Ann (The Surftones cover)
On Graveyard Hill
Monkey Gone To Heaven
This Is My Fate
No. 13 Baby
In The Arms Of Mrs. Mark Of Cain
Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf)
All The Saints
Winterlong (Neil Young cover)
Planet Of Sound