By John Curley
Pixies, now touring in support of their eighth studio album, Doggerel, played a very limited number of shows in the United States at the beginning of October. The first three shows took place in California. The final US show of 2022 was held at Terminal 5 in Manhattan on Wednesday evening, October 5th.
The midsize venue on West 56th Street was already packed with fans when I arrived at 8:25 p.m., over 30 minutes before Pixies’ scheduled stage time of 9 p.m. The balconies were almost full, and the crowd on the floor in front of the stage were standing shoulder to shoulder. Pixies hadn’t played in New York City since December 2019, so anticipation for the show was high. Given the size of the crowd that turned out to see the band at Terminal 5, it is clear that the show should have been scheduled for a larger venue. Here’s hoping that Pixies’ management make note of that for the band’s next visit to the Big Apple.
The quartet Sir Chloe opened the show. Due to my delayed arrival, I missed the bulk of their set and only saw their last song. They did receive quite a positive reaction from the packed house at the end of their set.
Following a 30-minute interval, Pixies hit the stage right on time at 9 p.m. Walking onstage to a huge roar from the assembled throng, Pixies launched right into their opener, a spirited cover of The Surftones’ instrumental “Cecilia Ann.” And they were firing on all cylinders. Joey Santiago and Black Francis rocked on guitar, Paz Lenchantin’s bass was rumbling and David Lovering’s drumming was rock solid. It was a terrific way to begin the proceedings. They then tore into the punky “St. Nazaire.” The band tore it up as Francis spat out the song’s lyrics. It received a huge reaction from the crowd. Many in the crowd on the floor in front of the were bouncing up and down during the terrific performance of “Cactus.”
The audience roared in unison when the first notes to “Wave of Mutilation” were played. Lenchantin’s bass was pounding, Santiago and Francis provided great guitar work and Lovering’s drumming was tight. The crowd went bonkers during the heavy-duty, ferocious performance of “Something Against You” that was driven by Lenchantin’s terrific bass playing.
The energetic crowd gave enthusiastic reactions to the performances of “Isla de Enchanta” and “Brick Is Red.” One of the many highlights of the show was “Caribou,” which featured a great lead vocal by Francis, terrific guitar work by Santiago and solid playing by the rhythm section of Lovering and Lenchantin. The stellar performance of “Gouge Away” may well have been THE highlight of the show. Lenchantin’s bass playing in the intro was fantastic. Santiago’s distortion-driven guitar work was outstanding. And the crowd sang along to Francis’ lead vocal at the top of their voices.
The standalone single “Human Crime,” which was released in March of this year, was given its first New York City live performance, and it was quite good. Santiago’s stinging guitar work was the linchpin behind the stellar take on “Monkey Gone to Heaven” that had the crowd in front of the stage bouncing up and down. The frenetic “Planet of Sound” was an all-hands-on-deck effort, with Santiago’s outstanding guitar pyrotechnics, Lenchantin’s solid bass playing, a powerhouse lead vocal by Francis and Lovering’s rocking drumming. It very deservedly received a huge roar from the crowd.
Surprisingly, Pixies performed only two songs from Doggerel at the show. “Vault of Heaven” was a showcase for the contrasting vocal styles of Francis and Lenchantin. And it also featured great musicianship by all four members of the band. “Who’s More Sorry Now?” was given a tight performance by the band that included Santiago’s great guitar work, a strong lead vocal by Francis, terrific drumming by Lovering and Lenchantin’s pounding bass and effective backing vocal. It was a shame that “There’s a Moon On,” which is the best song on Doggerel, was not performed at Terminal 5.
The bass-driven “All the Saints” was a full-on band effort that also featured a great backing vocal by Lenchantin. That was followed by the wonderful, hushed “Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf),” which served as a good contrast to the more rocking version of the song that had been performed earlier in the set. It had a strong, measured lead vocal by Francis at its center. “Death Horizon,” which has echoes of 1960s surf music, had some outstanding guitar playing by Santiago. And Santiago was featured again during the performance of “Mr. Grieves” that also featured great work by the rhythm section and a solid lead vocal by Francis.
While Santiago’s guitar playing was featured throughout the show, his spotlight moment came during the outstanding performance of “Vamos.” He made full use of his effects pedals during the guitar break and used the bill of the cap he was wearing to play the neck of his guitar. The crowd roared in appreciation throughout.
As the main set neared its conclusion, the crowd sang along at the top of their voices with the “You are the son of a motherf---er” line during the performance of “Nimrod’s Son.” The song morphed into something of an alt-country tune about halfway through before switching back to full-on rock as it concluded.
The tight performance of “Ana” featured strong vocals by Francis and Lenchantin. And the closing song of the main set, “Where Is My Mind?,” had the audience singing along in unison with Lenchantin’s backing vocal.
The band left the stage and returned five minutes later for the encore. A small portion of their cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On” was played before being abandoned for a rip-roaring version of “U-Mass” that had the crowd cheering. An incendiary version of “Tame” got the crowd even more fired up. The 90-minute performance came to its conclusion with a terrific version of “Hey” that received a massive reaction from the crowd.
Pixies will be performing several dates in South America this month. They will be playing in Japan next month before heading to Australia and New Zealand in December. In February and March, they will be performing in Europe. Full tour dates can be found in the Tour section at https://www.pixiesmusic.com/.
Pixies’ setlist was as follows:
Cecilia Ann (The Surftones cover)
Wave of Mutilation
Something Against You
Isla de Enchanta
Brick Is Red
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Planet of Sound
Vault of Heaven
Who’s More Sorry Now?
All the Saints
Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)
Where Is My Mind?
Head On (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover, small portion of song was played)