It took 6 years for The Pixies to return to Australia for a national headlining tour, but on Thursday night they opened their run of gigs and showed their Brisbane audience why they’re still such a significant act.
Taking the stage before an eager and excitable crowd, Black Francis leads the way on to their dimly lit and rather small portion of the large Riverstage. Backed by quite literally a wall of cans (lights), giving the stage a very industrial look, the band get stuck straight into their first number ‘Cactus’.
Black’s wailing vocals, resonating acoustic guitar, and maniacal laugh can be heard from the uni bar across the way as he leads the band through a 90-minute set of hits – shades on the entire time.
As the band (comprised of David Lovering (drums), Joey Santiago (guitar), and the much talked about replacement for Kim Deal, Paz Lenchantin (bass)) power their way through a successful return to Australian shores, it’s easy to see the influence that they’ve had on so many other great artists come out. It’s so easy to see how this band gave birth to such others as Nirvana.
They bring everything to the table; from the slow to the fast, the grunge to the punk, Black’s impressive vocal range that can go anywhere from that high-pitched wail to a very Dave Grohl-esque scream, and Santiago’s driving dirty, yet melodic guitar playing.
‘Nimrod’s Son’ plays early in the set, but it’s the surprisingly early inclusion of tracks like ‘Where Is My Mind’ and ‘Here Comes Your Man’ that has the crowd absolutely thrilled and singing along, the former of which you could close your eyes and swear you were just at home listening to the record.
It’s a hot night in Brisbane but that doesn’t stop The Pixies from running through what ends up being a 28-song set, and the crowd from dancing/singing along to almost every word. There’s absolutely no stopping on this train and the band power through songs like ‘Mr. Grieves’, ‘Oona’, ‘U-Mass’, ‘Blown Away’, and for that matter, ‘Gouge Away’ – complete with an extended intro.
There is not a word said to the crowd the entire night except for the moment Black stops ‘Havalina’ shortly in only to move on to the next song in their set.
Whilst some time has now passed since original bassist Kim Deal departed the band, the talk on a lot of people’s lips is still that of newcomer Paz Lenchantin. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind after tonight that Paz has truly stepped up and made that role her own. Paz drives that bass and completely owns the vocals on ‘All I Think About Now’, a song Black wrote about his former band member.
‘Debaser’ gets the reaction you would expect with the crowd going wild, singing, dancing and launching toilet rolls into the atmosphere. David Lovering’s drumming is on point all night as the band rip through song after song without time for a break.
It’s a simple formula tonight; it’s just the band and their songs under the moonlit sky in a shroud of smoke from the stage. There’s no large fancy production, there’s no political agenda, no drunken ranting and raving – it’s just The Pixies romancing the crowd with their music and songs like ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’.
Almost 90 minutes after the quartet took to the stage, the band are now saying goodbye, only to return moments later for their encore performance of ‘Into The White’. As the lights around Riverstage illuminate and ‘Helter Skelter’ serves as the exit song, thousands of fans pour out undeniably impressed and satisfied with the long awaited return; others just wanted to hear ‘the Fight Club song’ one more time – either way the night is a success.