Horncastle Arena, Christchurch, NZ
March 9th, 2017
Reviewed by ALEX LYALL
The problem with having a legacy is that you have to maintain it. For the Pixies then, this means a lot of work.
Before their reuniting the band had collected a cult following, especially over their first two albums Surfer Rosa and Doolittle, which have been credited for their outstanding influence on alternative rock. Then there are the fans in high places – David Bowie, Bono, Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl to name a few – singling the Pixies out for making some of the most manic, innovative and energetic music out there. So when Kim Deal quit the band in 2013 over their decision to make new music, it called into question the legacy of the band. Was it a valid claim?
Well, seeing the band in the flesh told me everything I needed to know about that – it was rubbish. The Pixies are still as wild as ever.
They’ve definitely aged – vests and black suits clothing the band where flannel used to – but their ability to shred is not anywhere in doubt. Joey Santiago is able to fill the stadium with guitar fuzz. He was vital during Vamos, maintaining a consistent hiss all the way through. David Lovering looked at home behind his kit, wearing a gigantic grin as he showed off his unique style of drumming. Most obviously though, Black Francis can still howl like the devil. And if Black Francis is 6, then God is 7.
Kim Deal’s absence was admittedly on the mind of fans, but her replacement Paz Lenchantin proved herself not just on bass but on vocals too, leading the encore as she slayed Into the White. Paz’s performance made it clear that she was more than just a replacement bassist. She was an integral member of the band, and it was actually very sweet to see.
The old chestnut that wasn’t Kim Deal’s absence, but still very related to that, was the question of new music. Would they play too much of it? Did we actually want any at all? Every older band will find their fans asking this, no matter how good the new stuff is. But this was a rubbish claim too. Material off of their two latest, Indie City and Head Carrier, was received well. Fans bobbed, screamed and sang along – the songs facing recognition in the first few seconds.
But if the new songs were championed, then the classics were treated like visiting royalty. Cactus opened the show and was in fine company with other hits like Monkey Gone to Heaven, Debaser, Wave of Mutilation and Velouria. Where is My Mind? never received applause, the audience instead opting for a unified sing-along of the backing melody.
The Pixies must have figured early on that the reunion wouldn’t work if they did it half-heartedly. Their songs are just too weird for the semi-commitment some reunited bands play like. As a huge fan of the band myself, I can proudly say that the Pixies are just as into it as I am.
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