The Liner Notes

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Pixies “Doolittle” Tour sublime way to celebrate 20 years

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Frank Black knows.

He knows that the Pixies never have to create another original album again. All he has to manage is to keep the group on semi-friendly terms, enough that they can stand on stage together for 90 minutes, so they can play their hits and rake in ridiculous amounts of cash.

Cash from ticket sales, t-shirts, live recordings of shows and a new Minotaur box set that is selling for up to $600 for the limited edition package.

The Pixies have had their differences over the years. After parting ways in the early ‘90s, the quartet reunited for a tour in 2004, which is covered in the documentary “loudQUIETloud: a film about the Pixies.”

In fact, if Black ever did decide to record a new Pixies album it would most likely harm the group more than benefit it. There is really nothing Black can record, no matter how mind-blowing it is, that will stand up to the groups seminal works – “Come on Pilgrim,” “Surfer Rosa,” and “Doolittle.”

Weezer could take a cue from the Pixies.

Rivers Cuomo keeps releasing music that disappoints his fan base and enrages critics. Every couple years Weezer releases an album full of tracks that are amazing. Most musicians would kill to be able craft a pop-rock song half as catchy as Weezer’s.

Yet, no matter how catchy Cuomo’s licks are there is one common critique that haunts him: the album doesn’t sound like “Pinkerton.”

Imagine if Weezer simply did a “Pinkerton” tour where all they did was perform the album live. People would lose their minds to get their hands on those tickets.

Granted, from my understanding “Pinkerton” is the bane of Cuomo’s musical career, akin to Nirvana’s frontman Kurt Cobain’s relationship with the song Smells like Teen Spirit.

Coming full circle, Cobain was a huge Pixies fan who admittedly tried to “rip-off” the Pixies.

In a 1994 interview with Rolling Stone, Cobain, in talking about recording Smells Like Teen Spirit, stated:

“I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily that I should have been in that band— or at least a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard.”

Cobain’s love of the Pixies, ultimately lead to my love for the Pixies. When the Pixies were in their heyday I was only seven years old and thus had never seen them live.

The Pixies have had their differences over the years, parting ways in the early ‘90s, to reunite for a tour in 2004, which is covered well in the documentary “loudQUIETloud: a film about the Pixies.”

When the news of a “Doolittle” tour, where the band would play, arguably my favorite album of theirs, in its entirety, surfaced this year I was ecstatic.

The show offered far more than just the Doolittle gems, as good as they are live. After a nearly eight minutes of Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali’s surrealist 1928 short film Un chien andalou, which inspired the Pixies’ song Debaser, the band emerged to perform four b-sides.

The b-sides, including Dancing the Manta Ray and Weird at my School, were so obscure that bassist Kim Deal said they actually had to practice them.

From there the group ripped into “Doolittle” backlit by an array of surreal videos that varied dramatically from creepy to lighthearted. The vibrant videos are almost like a portal into Black’s mind revealing macabre or silly images that seem to complement a song’s lyrics and tempo.

Following the “Doolittle” performance, the group delved into another set of b-side starting with Wave of Mutilation (UK SURF).

The show came to a spectacular finale with an encore of some of their signature hits: Nimrod’s Son, Caribou, Crackity Jones, Vamos and Bone Machine.

Black may have gained a pound or two over the years, but he still has a voice that sound otherworldly when he screeches like a banshee.

All in all it was quite a 20-year anniversary for the quartet whose music has left a gaping imprint on popular music of the past two decades.

A Debaser Andalou:

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Written by David Young

December 5, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Posted in Concerts, Music

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