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The Pixies
Robert Guertin Arena, Gatineau Hull Ottawa Canada

Artist Home Page

Date: Sunday November 28, 2004

How can one begin a review of a Pixies show? You canít compare it to the last one you saw, when the last time they toured was over a decade ago and the particulars of that night are long forgotten. Except for the part where they got cranky and stormed off before they were done because all of us moshers were shaking the stage too much. That was a buzz kill. Well over a decade later, there are riot crowd barriers stationed three feet from the stage and behind those 4 burly guys standing with the requisite arms-crossed pose. Not intimidating though, hopeful, because it means weíll get to hear the whole set this time. Cool. Itíll all be alright. Just as soon as we get past the two opening bands that are standing in the way.

Lights off. Band one comes on. They are called The Marble Index and thankfully only play for half an hour. That last statement seems harsh, but frankly I am too impatient to pay attention. Iím here for The Pixies. I try and get into it, I really do, but it turns out these three guys are simply playing songs that donít hold attention and are easy to forget. The most entertaining part of their set is the in-between song banter. Like the one where the lead singer channels that Gallagher brother from Oasis and blurts: "Did you like that one? It was really fucking good, wasnít it." You know what? If itís good, Iíll tell you, okay buddy. I paid to get in here, Iíll let you know if it was good, donít tell me it was. But then I think - Who am I to judge? Iím in a band and Iíve not been asked to open for The Pixies, so maybe I should just shut up and try to be patient. They play a few more tunes then leave the stage, but not before promising that Frank Blackís gonna rip our bowels out later with his genius. Not quite the experience I was looking for, but he just mentioned Frankís name so thatís a good sign that The Pixies really are here tonight and Iím not in the middle of a nightmare after all.

Lights on. A roadie with hang-down pants is switching around drum kits and equipment. He gives us a few flashes of butt crack, demonstrates that he can tune a guitar and crunch out power chords then leaves the stage so the next band can come on.

Lights off. The Datsuns walk on and this is the first time I have seen them or heard them though Iíve been coming across references to them for ages. Well, maybe not ages, cuz they all look like eight year olds. Man, how do these kids get a gig opening for The Pixies? Life must be so sweet for them right now. Canít wait to hear what they sound like because I decide in my head that Frank really likes them and hand picked them to tour with so that means Iím going to really like them too. They do have a lot of energy and I like the fast driving songs, but the lead guitarist really has to stop channelling Jimmy Page all song long, song after song. I start to grow impatient again. Jimmyís twiddling and diddling and wa-wa-wa-wa-whining away and my mind is wandering away from the band, theyíve lost my attention. These two opening bands are killing me, and finally a smile crosses my face because I stop day dreaming long enough to notice they are "rock-waving" their way off stage.

Lights on. Butt crack roadie guy is back. No wait. Thatís a different guy. That makes two butt-crack roadies to snicker at now. Why should I complain, the only reason I can see butt crack at all is that somehow when I tuned out during the Datsuns I unconsciously wiggled my way closer to the barrier. Iím front and centre stage, alright! Wow, maybe when the Pixies come on, Iíll get to experience one of those moments frozen in time where you match eyeballs with your heroes. The Butt Crack Guys are setting up for a while. Looks like Joey and Frank are gonna have two amps each. Whoo hoo, that is so rock and roll. Daveís drum kit is raised above their heads, weíll get a great view of him. And thereís Kimís bass stack, and wait, I think I just saw Kim, looks like she just ducked in behind the bass stack. What is she up to? Sheís got a video camera. Sheís hiding behind her stack, filming us. For a long time. 15 minutes or so and then....

Lights off. The other guys are coming out on stage, Joey is heading stage right, Frankís headed for the middle, Kimís at stage left, Daveís up on his platform and the audience is going crazy, here comes your band. They grab their instruments and plug in. Frankís got his acoustic and its got holes in the pick guard area from all the strumming it has endured. Kimís got a nice t-shirt on, with a nice long sleeved shirt on underneath. I canít help but think sheís gotta be self conscious about those track marks. Thankfully that habitís been kicked. Right? Um...not by the looks of it. Sheís staring out, sheís smiling, sheís glazed over, she is totally gone. She starts plunking away at her bass, and eerily her voice comes in singing "In heaven, everything is fine" and you realise she is just like the girl in the radiator in Eraserhead. She is a David Lynch movie. Sheís pasty and plastic and beautiful. I hear her bass, but it seems like sheís hardly moving, I hear her vocals but it seems like she is hardly singing. And when sheís done, Frank takes over for the rest of the show. Kimís back-up vocals are happening on cue even though there are times when sheís nowhere near the mic. Oh my god, they have Ashlee Simpsoned Kimís backups vocals for the show. Looks like they predicted sheíd be a little spaced out. I donít care. They play a handful of songs and then Frank switches to electric and song after song is washing over me and playing like the soundtrack I hope to hear endlessly when I die and go to Heaven: Wave of Mutilation, Bone Machine, Where Is My Mind, Debaser, Monkey Gone To Heaven, Nimrodís Son, Mr. Grieves, Gouge Away, Is She Weird, and I just canít believe how good these guys are, how many good songs that I forgot that they have, how it seems like 80% of the songs have either the word die or dead in them, and I havenít counted but it seems like theyíve played like 30 songs, and they make it all look so easy. The moshers are going nuts and this time I am the one getting cranky about it. Iím too old to mosh, and it severely detracts from my ability to pay attention. Iím getting pushed out of my sweet spot, Iím getting robbed of my eye contact moment. OK, Iíll get over it. Iíll learn to share the Pixies with them.

They do an extended version of Vamos and Joey teases the audience by dangling Daveís drumstick and making throwing motions towards us, but he holds on tight, and uses it instead as a bow and heís playing his guitar like a stand up bass, and he is sort of making these weird presto change-o magician movements at times and itís mesmerizing and Frankís just taking a break, sitting on a riser and strumming out of the spotlight and we are all just soaking it in. At times I wonder about how they are all getting along, there is not much rapport going on except for the times when Kim turns her gaze to each of them in turn, smiling and being smiled back at, grooving away on her bass and you canít help but think that if you could enter her mind at this moment youíd be there with her, tripping through fields of daisies as unicorns with rainbow manes prance by. They donít look like they have exorbitant amounts of fun together, but the music doesnít suffer. Joey throws the drumstick back to Dave, it travels across the stage and up in the air to where Daveís been drumming with one stick up on his platform and he reaches out and the stick lands right in his hand and without missing a beat he leads the band to the end of the song. This is it, the night is ending. And when it does they graciously come out to the front of the stage and clap and bow and walk up and down, just like all the greats do after the curtain has fallen. We canít let them go, we know, and they know there are encore expectations to be fulfilled. They pick up their instruments and play three more songs, and on the last, Kim grabs back hold of the wheel and closes us off with Gigantic. Then theyíre gone.

Lights on and we are left with a big, big love.

Pictures: click here

ēMadeleine Giguere Email WWW


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