Nothing mutilated in Pixies’ wave |

Nothing mutilated in Pixies’ wave

Shauna Farnell
Special to the Daily The significance of The Pixies is that they are the cornerstone to what experimental rock has become today. They currently are playing on a reunion tour across the country.

DENVER – It could have been a wave of mutilation, but the hour and 20 minutes of album-mirroring renditions of beloved hits might earn the aging Pixies a spot in history as having accomplished the most respectable reunion tour of all times.Yes, every one of the band (besides bassist Kim Deal) has completed the final stage of evolution into baldness, and chunky Charles (singer Frank Black or whatever he calls himself now) has managed to up the skin-wrinkle count to about seven on the back of his shiny head. Plus, besides the moments when Deal went to stand in front of David Lovering’s drum set to light another cigarette, or when guitarist Joey Santiago put his guitar on cruise control during a Wah-peddle-and-drumstick-driven extended solo during “Vamos,” the Pixies barely even bobbed their heads. They were virtually stationary. But, even during their inauguration in the late 1980s, they were never exactly known for on-stage scissor kicks. After witnessing The Pixies’ gig Thursday at Magness Arena in Denver, there’s no denying that this is a foursome that’s got a firm grip on its integrity despite the millions its making on this reunion tour (which has been nearly nonstop since April).

Thursday’s set kicked off with the slower, more atmospheric version of “Wave of Mutilation,” and slipped flawlessly into “Where is my Mind.” A large majority of tunes from “Surfer Rosa” and “Come On Pilgrim” (the band’s first two and arguably most adored albums) were subsequently delivered in stunningly immaculate resemblance to their in-stereo originals. And if the band happened to have misplaced a lyric, or even put an “oh-oh-oh” or a “da-da-da” on the slightly higher or lower end of a verse, they had thousands of fanatic and age-defying audience members to remind them of precisely where every last pant should go. Perhaps the band wasn’t on queue at all, but my ears were just ringing with the voices of the retro-glasses-and-Puma-sneakers-clad crowd surrounding me, who literally were singing along like dozens of robotic karaoke machines. During “Hey,” my friend Stonehouse stopped playing air guitar long enough to direct my attention to a group of what looked like 14-year-olds standing behind us who could easily have won an award for their verbatim memorization of each octave in every Pixies song (the originals of which had surely come and gone before they were old enough to eat Pixy Stix).

“Do kids study The Pixies in school now?” Stonehouse asked me. The Pixies’ disciples at Magness Arena made Jesus Christ look like a sideshow. But I should have expected that after making a couple embarrassing mistakes in my preview for the gig. I accidentally attributed the song “DIg For Fire” to the “Doolittle” album instead of “Bossanova,” and evidently installed some incorrect album release dates. Oops. I might as well have set fire to the nostril hairs of some of these Pixies fans, whose incisive “corrections” arrived promptly from across the United States immediately after the article was published.

There was one encore during Thursday’s gig, where the band didn’t bother to leave the stage, but just stood squinting into the overhead lights, smiling and waving awkwardly amidst the deafening roar of screams and stomps. Then, they picked up their instruments and kicked into the second, livelier rendition of “Wave of Mutilation” and followed it with “Gigantic,” the intro for which created an aura among the slack-jawed crowd that was something akin to a spiritual experience.So, The Pixies might be getting old and fat, but they are true to their roots. They never looked like supermodels to begin with, and the hypnotic effect they’ve had on listeners with their one-of-a-kind quirky and discordant tunes has clearly transformed into a shrine of sorts for many people. There is, in fact, grace to be found in reunion tours and aging rockers, and the Pixies’ wave has got a long ways to go before it fades.

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