Pixies Pick Up Where They Left Off At Opening Tour Date

Band shows few (audible) signs of age in 27-song set.

MINNEAPOLIS — Eleven years after disintegrating amidst bad feelings — and almost 12 years to the day after their last show together — the Pixies took the stage on Tuesday for the kickoff date of an unlikely but finally realized reunion tour.

Looking older, thicker and, in the instances of guitarist Joey Santiago and singer Black Francis (Charles Thompson a.k.a. Frank Black), balder, the quartet came out to raucous applause from 800 fans at the Fine Line Music Café. Bassist Kim Deal uttered a simple “hey” as the group picked up its instruments and soaked up a minute-long ovation from the crowd.

Drummer David Lovering, wearing a cowboy shirt and a black leather newsboy cap, thundered out the opening beats of “Bone Machine” to launch the group’s 27-song set. Any notion that the band’s elusive chemistry had eroded in the decade-plus since its last tour was quickly dispelled as the four musicians tore into their post-punk pop ditties with rocking energy and surprisingly excellent timing.

  Pixies Tour Kickoff Photos

As Santiago described to MTV News two weeks ago (see “Pixies Guitarist Says Reunion Not Embarrassing So Far; Martinis Ready To Roll” ), the Pixies seemed very much at ease playing together after a such a long layoff and acrimonious breakup. They had been practicing in Los Angeles for the last two months and spent last weekend rehearsing in Minneapolis.

They concentrated mostly on songs from Come on Pilgrim, their 1987 debut EP, and two subsequent albums, Surfer Rosa and Doolittle. To mix things up, the group played a handful of rarities as well. “We never played this next song much, but we’re playing it now,” Deal told the audience before duetting with Francis on the group’s folksy reading of Neil Young’s “Winterlong.”

“It’s starting to feel like our first gig,” Francis admitted to the crowd before the noise-jam “Vamos.” “What do you want to play, Kim?” he asked, realizing he didn’t know what the next song was. “I already f—ed up the first set.”

Deal got a loud reception during the three songs on which she sang lead: the sexually charged “Gigantic,” the B-side “Into the White,” and “In Heaven,” which was usually sung by Francis when the group played the song in its early days. Dressed all in black, and noticeably heftier than in years past, Deal had a smile plastered on her face through most of the performance.

Even though the Pixies never achieved notable commercial success, their legacy and influence has thrived through the years: Bands like Nirvana and Radiohead have regularly cited them as a key influence. The group’s melodic, often harmonized pop alternates between colloquially sung verses and explosive bursts of screams and noise. On songs like “Tame” and “Broken Face” it’s evident the band created a template for pop-punk music that lives on today.

The Pixies finished with a seven-song encore, slapping hands with fans as they left the stage. After the show, hundreds of fans loitered upstairs at the venue to await the arrival of recordings of the night’s performance. Using on-the-spot recording and duplication technology, the New York-based company Disclive is producing limited-edition CDs of each night’s performance, available 20 minutes post-wrap (1,000 copies of each show will be pressed, although 2,000 copies of the group’s set at the Coachella festival will be available).

The company sold 500 copies of the Minneapolis show’s recording through its Web site (www.disclive.com), and approximately another 450 were sold at the venue.

The band will now continue its warm-up tour, playing 13 shows in 11 small-market cities including Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Davis, California. The group will play a headlining slot at Coachella May 1, then head to Europe for a summer filled with festival dates. It returns for a more thorough tour of North America in the fall that will hit major cities on the East Coast and Midwest. Currently, the band has no plans to record new material.

Complete set list:

  • “Bone Machine”
  • “Wave of Mutilation”
  • “U-Mass”
  • “Levitate Me”
  • “Broken Face”
  • “Monkey Gone to Heaven”
  • “The Holiday Song”
  • “Winterlong”
  • “Nimrod’s Son”
  • “La La Love You”
  • “Ed Is Dead”
  • “Here Comes Your Man”
  • “Vamos”
  • “Debaser”
  • “Dead”
  • “No. 13 Baby”
  • “Tame”
  • “Gigantic”
  • “Gouge Away”
  • “Caribou”

    Encore:

  • “Isla de Encanta”
  • “Something Against You”
  • “Velouria”
  • “In Heaven”
  • “Wave of Mutilation” (reprise)
  • “Where Is My Mind?”
  • “Into the White”

For a look back at the way the Pixies were, check out the MTV News feature “Death to the Pixies.”

For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.