Pixies Play Ovens Auditorium
By: Daniel Coston
Three songs into their set, the Pixies began a song, but guitarist Joey Santiago did not want to follow. The song stopped and singer Black Francis looked over at Santiago with a mixture of surprise and confusion. “We can play another one” said Francis. The two quickly huddled, decided on a different song and were off again.
After touring for the past few years around the performances of their classic albums, the Pixies are touring again without a setlist. This means that the song choices for this show were a surprise to the fans in attendance, and occasionally the bandmembers themselves. However, this added an element of surprise to the evening, such as when the band played “Here Comes Your Man” for its seventh song. And for those in attendance, it added to the evening’s allure.
The lighting for the show was minimal. Several squares behind the stage were used as a projection screen, and the band was backlit for much of the show, with an occasional spotlight on Francis. It makes for tough work if you’re a photographer, but it does allow the music to stay at front and center. Which appears to be the reason why the Pixies are still out playing in the first place. I should also mention that this was the first time that I have seen the Pixies. So, I cannot compare this show to the aforementioned “Classic Album” shows, or their tours in the early 1990s. All of that being said, it was a good show, and it was worth the wait.
Opener John Grant got a warm response from the crowd, some of whom obviously came to just see him, and called out requests for songs. Some hear Grant’s songs and think, “Wow, this is like Leonard Cohen with a potty mouth.” Even Grant himself said onstage, “my dad still says that he wants to wash out my mouth with soap. And I’m 47, now.” Others, like myself, hear the piano-based angst and soaring choruses that separates Grant’s songs from others. It was fantastic to see Grant in Charlotte and my quibble about his shortened set was that I had called for “Fireflies”, which is as good a ballad as you’re ever going to hear.