“Fucking Pixies,” No Age's Dean Spunt muttered in lieu of an actual introduction to his own band's set at the Hollywood Palladium on Wednesday. It was the first night of the Pixies' Doolittle tour – wherein the seminal indie group's original lineup performs their classic 1989 album end to end.
Spunt's simple utterance rightly captured the mix of disbelief and electric anticipation coursing through the cavernous room. It seemed to be all anyone could think about, even, unfortunately, as No Age performed a strong set against steep odds. To wit, it took Spunt getting off of the drums and grabbing the mic of partner Randy Randall for the venue staff to notice the obvious: “Can someone fix my fucking microphone?”
Though the night would prove a success, even the Pixies got off to a slow start.
It wasn't so much the decision to screen Luis Buñuel's Un Chien Andalou first – the experimental short that inspired much of Doolittle's lyrics – as it was the odd choice to kick off their set with the album's collected B-sides, some of which, Kim Deal admitted, “we've barely played before.”
The western skronk of “Weird At My School” was well-received, but nothing could prepare the crowd for its own exuberance when Deal struck the opening bass notes of “Debaser.” Those familiar tones sounded as good as ever, as did Black Francis' maniacal cackle – no worse for wear despite the 20 years that've passed since Doolittle's release.
“Tame” was every bit the opposite of its name. “Wave Of Mutilation” was rightly epic, if not a little rushed in parts. “I Bleed” as twisted as ever, and “Here Comes Your Man” still that perfect Pixies grotesque of pop, art and the outright bizarre. “You can't skip 'em if you don't like any,” quipped Deal before the harsh rocker “Dead.” “You've got to hear 'em all.”
That wasn't a problem, of course. If there was a reason for concern at all, it was how quickly the songs came and went – the momentous album weighs in, after all, at less than 40 minutes. The superb afterglow of hearing “Monkey Gone To Heaven” and “Mr. Grieves” recreated one after the next had barely faded when the small storm stirred up by Joey Santiago and David Lovering on “Gouge Away” announced Doolittle's imminent end.
The gracious foursome took a few deep bows – and turns running to the far edges of the stage, soaking it up – before coming back for not one, but two encores. The first comprised their slowed-down version of “Wave” along with the last remaining B-side, Deal's “Into The White,” while billowing smoke enveloped the band. The second almost didn't come at all.
The house lights went up as the Pixies took the stage, determined to repay the crowd's 10 minutes of rallying with the hits we'd been hoping for: “Isla De Encanta,” from Come On Pilgrim, followed by “Gigantic” and, best of all, “Where Is My Mind?” Ours, of course, were still hovering in happy disbelief.
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