Pixies - Metro, Chicago - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Pixies - Metro, Chicago

by Jim Cunnar Rating:9 Release Date:2011-12-17

Too bad for those who had tickets to see Robert Plant and his band, The Sensational Shape Shifters. A few days ago, he came down with a bad case of laryngitis, which caused him to reschedule shows this week in Toronto, Detroit and Chicago. Opening for Plant were the venerable alt-rock gods Pixies, who decided to make the best of an unfortunate situation and play last-minute sets in the three cities they were supposed to open, with last night's set at Metro in Chicago. 

The 1100 tickets sold out quickly, and despite having to compete with game four of the Stanley Cup Finals, Metro was packed in and ready to roll when Black Francis and crew took the stage shortly after 10pm.

The band, consisting of original members Francis, Joey Santiago (lead guitar), and David Lovering (drums), with Paz Lenchantin on bass, pounded through a 29-song set in just short of two hours. The first half of the show consisted of Francis on his acoustic guitar, and the second half with him on his electric.  

Despite his middle-age paunch and a room which was seriously hot and humid, Francis sounded amazing. New songs like 'Greens and Blues' were deflty delivered, but when needed, he growled and screeched like he was in his 20s again. 'Head On', the Jesus & Mary Chain cover which appears on Trompe Le Monde, was one of the best of the night, a warp-speed version highlighted by Lovering, whose history teacher look was merely a cover for the precise fierceness of his drumming. 

Francis and co said nary a word to the audience, instead focusing on packing as much music as possible into their time on stage. The lack of banter made for some drag in the middle of the show, but despite this, Pixies were in top form.

This was not a greatest hits set. They played five songs off their fantastic 2014 release Indie Cindy, in addition to deep tracks such as 'I've Been Tired' from their debut Come on Pilgrim. Classics such as 'Here Comes Your Man', 'Where is My Mind' and 'Wave of Mutilation' sounded fresh, with Francis giving us both versions of 'Wave'. The 'UK Surf' version came in the first half when he was donning his acoustic guitar, and the radio edit came near the end with his electric.  

Twenty-six years ago, Pixies played Metro when it was known as Cabaret Metro, and recorded a live 12in promo album. Even owner Joe Shanahan doesn't have a copy of that super-rare gem.

Last night, those of us who are old enough to have been around for that show 26 years ago got to see a band who sounds as fresh and relevant as ever. Pixies have a sound that can challenge, but last night, Black, Joey, Dave, and Paz strung together such a tight set that the only thing we were left challenged with was how to explain to those at work the next day what we experienced the night before. 

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