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Innovative Pixies amaze at Paramount
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Innovative Pixies amaze at Paramount

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

The Pixies
November 13-14
Paramount Theatre


Alt-rock veterans the Pixies' two-night gig at the Paramount - both vocally and musically speaking - couldn't have been better. The shows, a 20th anniversary celebration for the band's Doolittle album, were a triumph for fans and groupies alike. For 90 minutes, Black Francis, Kim Deal, David Lovering and Joey Santiago took the audience on a surreal journey through 18 songs of melodic yowling.

The Pixies invited SGN to their November 13 show at the Paramount. I accepted the invitation and brought along an avid Pixies fan, mostly because there wasn't much I knew about the Boston-formed alternative rock band. I knew that a monkey goes to heaven and sometimes Mr. Greives takes a walk with Bailey - honestly, that summed up my knowledge of the Pixies repertoire from start to finish. Consider me a changed man; after watching the band give Doolittle all it had to give, I was immediately converted from a casual listener to an avid fan of one the most influential bands of its time.

Held in high regard, Doolittle featured the prominent single "Here Comes Your Man," a 1989 top-10 modern rock radio hit "Monkey Gone to Heaven," and one of the band's most recognized and celebrated songs, "Debaser," and helped introduce the band to the masses. The Pixies opened the November 3 show with four B-sides - "Dancing the Manta Ray," "Weird at My School," "Bailey's Walk," and "Manta Ray" - while bizarre images from surrealist films played behind the band on a giant video screen throughout the night.

Immediately following the B-sides, the screen flashed "Doolittle" and the band launched into "Debaser" - and proceeded to play the album's 15 tracks in sequential order. Throughout the show, I was continually amazed at just what a well-oiled machine the Pixies have become. Since regrouping in 2004, 11 years after disbanding in 1993, they've continually toured the country and, from the sound of things, practice really does make perfect. Francis Black may not write the most complicated lyrics of his generation, but his vocal delivery is unmistakably complex. Black was in top form, and Kim Deal's harmonies were on point. Likewise, drummer David Lovering handled the vocals to "La La Love You" with ease.

The Paramount Theatre fit the Doolittle show nicely. The lower level was transformed into a general admission, standing-room-only venue that made perfect sense for the type of show the Pixies perform. I can't imagine what it would be like watching a Pixies show while seated. It's hard to do the stoned-out-of-your-mind white boy sway when neatly seated in rows A through Z.

"Hey" was certainly one of the highlight numbers; I don't think you could've found a single silent person in the crowd as the masses sang back at the Pixies, "Hey! Been trying to meet you!" Of course, I'd be remiss not to mention the band's perfect offering of "Monkey Gone to Heaven," which also featured the at-capacity audience screaming back "God is seven!" "Here Comes your Man," although unusually pop-esque for the band, was a standout number. One of the most pleasurable aspects of the Pixies' songbook is the fact that almost all of their songs hover around two and-a-half minutes long. You don't find yourself bored with a song or set list.

The band performed two encores, a pair of Doolittle B-sides, "Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)" and "Into the White." For the second encore, the band played a three-song, non-Doolittle encore consisting of "Caribou," "Vamos," and "Gigantic."

While it may be true that you do not get all of the best the Pixies has to offer with a Doolittle concert, what you do get is a journey through one of rock's most amazing and innovative albums with one of music's strangest, yet somehow down-to-earth bands. There's something to be said for polished sound and performance, and in this case the Pixies are as polished at it gets - even when the lyrics are about mutilation.

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