My very first concert was a Pixies concert. So to say that the band holds a nostalgic spot in my development, is putting it lightly. I also thank the stars that my first concert was a really good band, one I still listen to today. For God's sake, it could have been Tiffany or something.
I didn't know it when I saw them that first time, but the Pixies, back then, did not get along. Bassist Kim Deal had actually announced their breakup on stage during that concert run, though it appeared to be an act of impulse, or drunkenness, maybe just a bad day, because the band would go on to make another album and go on an even bigger tour. It was after this peak in fame, with thier audience growing bigger, loads of critical respect, and a gig opening for U2, that they would finally dissolve, again by way of seeming surprise via a matter of fact fax from lead singer/guitarist/songwriter Charles Thompson aka. Black Francis, aka. Frank Black.
In the years after their breakup, Black went on to a solo career, Deal found a hit with her band The Breeders, and drummer David Lovering and lead guitarist Joey Santiago also kept busy, sometimes supporting Black. But by the mid 90's, like so many other acts, Black's career cooled, and internal problems made The Breeders fizzle away. The band found itself the object of praise, applauded by the likes of Nirvana, Blur, Radiohead, David Bowie, a generally huge list of other bands that who rose to fame, as well as a whole generation of kids grew up only knowing the band this way.
The reunion tour in 2004 seemed unlikely, especially to those who remembered the breakup and considering that the bands two creative forces, Deal and Thompson/Francis/Black, found they could do just fine on their own. But time and maturity can temper things. So can an empty bank account. While the Pixies were lauded as pioneers and a huge inspiration, acclaim doesn't make you tremendously wealthy. The Pixies reunion has played out to be less an artistic endeavor as a financial one. And that is fine, they fucking deserve it. With a legion of fans from the early days growing older and nostalgic, and a generation of fans who never got a chance to see the band live, they launched a full-scale assault of concert dates and DVD releases (live shows, videos, documentaries). And being ones for the tongue in cheek, what did they call the tour? ‟Sell-Out.‟ Perfect.
This Boston performance was a‟secret show‟ that took place on August 8th 2005 at The Paradise, a small venue the band played in during their early days. The packed crowd looks to be somewhere around 150-200 people. A small floor, with a two tier balcony that only goes about two people deep, its what they call intimate. Crowd and band are well within spitting (or other means of bodily projectile) distance of each other.
The twenty-nine song set contains: ‟La La Love You", Neil Young's "Winterlong", then "Into the White, Vamos, All Around the World" (a folk song they learned for the Newport Folk Festival), "Mr. Grieves, Nimrod's Son, In Heaven, Where is My Mind?, Gouge Away, Something Against You, Dead, Isla De Encanta, Crackity Jones, Monkey Gone to Heaven, Wave of Mutilation, Subbacultcha, Planet of Sound, Bone Machine, River Euphrates, Allison, Sad Punk, U-Mass, Broken Face, Debaser, Tame, Gigantic, Hey,‟ and ‟Caribou.‟
This is not a great show. Oh sure, there are some moments, but there is a looseness, some clumsiness, and a dip in energy here and there that makes it far from perfect or awe-inspiring. Black begins by asking Lovering to do ‟La La Love You‟, the only Pixies song he sings lead on, and it falls apart. But what is nice is to see the band be jovial about it. If they have any lingering tensions with each other, you don't see it on stage this night. Black and Deal banter about a printing error on their picks, his say ‟Kim‟, hers say ‟Frank.‟ The timing is off on songs like ‟Isla...‟. Black's singing on ‟Where is My Mind‟ is half-hearted. Santiago forgets some of his hooks. Lovering misplaces a crash or two. Deal slips in an occasional find-the-note. When Black goes electric with ‟Something Against You‟ and they focus on more rollicking, blistering numbers, the set really picks up its energy and performance level. Black can still belt out a wail, and Deal's voice still retains its dulcet tone (amazing since she still chain smokes).
The DVD: Eagle Vision.
Picture: Anamorphic Widescreen. While I didnt like the cameras being mainly on the one side of the stage (the right), the small venue otherwise leads to some really nice things regarding the staging. First, the lighting means makes so that the faces of the audience members furthest in the background have some detail. Second, there is no crazy camera work or lighting fx. No strobes or heavy filters. No wacky tilted angles. Its all pretty simple and straightforward. Technically the image is nice and crisp with a good deal of detail and no glaring errors.
Sound: DTS or 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround. Good sound. Most of the bands catalog of songs are not the kind with an arena rock sound scape. It's a stripped down act on an appropriately stripped down stage. Cleaner the sound, more noticeable the fuck-ups, but the mix is all good here. Santiago's lead, melody, accent work dominates the right side speaker. Lovering's drums make the most of the rear and surround. Black and Deal's vocals get a nice center mix. Agian, the venue and the band determine the sound quality and you'll find better examples, but, for what it is, the presenation is perfect.
Extras: Precious and a little bit gushy liner notes by Boston Pheonix music editor Matt Ashare. -- The discs main extra feature is more Boston footage of the band, this time all the way back to 1986, making it one of the bands earliest gigs. The twelve song, minute twenty-two minute set consists of, ‟The Holiday Song, I'm Amazed, Rock My Soul, Broken Face, I've Been Tired, Caribou, Isla De Encanta, Nimrod's Son, Ed is Dead, Build High, Boom Chickaboom", and "Down to the Well.‟ The vhs camcorder quality makes it a less than enjoyable on the tech side, but as a curio it is very neat.
Conclusion: While it isn't the bands greatest set, dammit, lackadaze at times or not, its nice to have The Pixies back to show the world the glory of some three minute alternative rock without mascara-boy whining and ProTools production. Middling show but still a good DVD, sure to get a spin or two on fans players.