Few bands have the cache or street cred that The Pixies do. It’s really hard to actually put a finger on because the run of the mill rock fan might be able to name three or four Pixies tunes max. I wrote about these guys maybe six months ago so I’m not going to wax poetic all over again today. Ryan, better known as The Giant Panther, and I took in The Pixies show this past Friday night at The Wang Center For The Performing Arts here in Boston. The actual building has a long history of hosting cultural events. In 1925 The Metropolitan Theatre opened in Boston’s Theatre District presumably hosting opera, classical music concerts and probably a little vaudeville. In 1962 the edifice was rechristened the home of the venerable Boston Ballet and renamed The Music Hall. In addition to the ballet crowd, the Music Hall began hosting a myriad of rock concerts including The Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan, particularly in the 70′s. I’m stating this from memory, which I’ve admitted in the past has betrayed me in the past, but I think I can safely say I saw The Outlaws, Heart, and possibly The Cars in that building before it was renamed yet again (this time back to The Metropolitan Theatre) in 1980. Great building; forced identity crisis…
Dr. An Wang, a computer engineer, made a large donation to the now non-profit Metropolitan Theatre in 1983. Wouldn’t you know it? Name change! According to Wikipedia, $9.8 Million was raised to renovate the theatre between 1989-1992. Now, with a capacity of roughly 3600, The Wang Center For The Performing Arts represents the very best Boston has to offer to the theatre going public. The Opera House is a fine establishment as well, but it’s buried a little off the beaten path near The Shopping District and not quite as big and glorious. Since the renovation The Wang has been careful not to attract the wrong element. I don’t think you’ll be seeing Motorhead or Judas Priest performing there any time soon (no offense to their music or perceived crowd intended). I think my concert going has been restricted to apple pie acts like Steely Dan, 10,000 Maniacs and comedian Jerry Seinfeld since they did the place over, but it is gorgeous. I don’t know their exact connection to the neighboring Wilbur Theatre is but I’ve taken in The Dandy Warhols and comedian Craig Ferguson over there. Nothing too offensive there either. I do have some crappy news though; The Wang Center For The Peforming Arts is being name hijacked once again…hello Citi Peforming Arts Center…uggh. I don’t believe I’ll be using that moniker anytime soon to describe this address. I still call The Tweeter/Comcast Center Great Woods and I always will. I detest corporate name changes. If they actually built the place fine, but otherwise…it’s such a turn off…no other way to describe it…have their been studies done that being hit over the head with a particular company, let alone a bank, improves business? Really? Stupid me…
The Pixies have another type of crowd. First of all, they have Boston ties, so that would probably factor into The Wang booking them, but I’m always curious where they draw that imaginary line in the sand. Ironically, my last, and only Pixies concert was November 27, 1991 at The Orpheum Theatre in Boston. How absolutely ironic is it that my next Pixies concert was 18 years to the day on November 27, 2009? I find that a tad disconcerting, but in a good way as we are all still here, healthy and rocking. The Pixies don’t have a particularly frightening brand of music, but they aren’t afraid to challenge the norm. The focus of this concert was the 1989 CD Doolittle, celebrating the 20th anniversary of its release, which they played end to end after a four song warm-up. I’ve been to my share of shows, but I got a big kick out of this one. I have often said that my 1991 show was spectacular. I was in roughly the 20th row this time so I wasn’t nearly as close as I was the first time, but I still got a pretty good feel for the enormity of what I was witnessing. To recap; The Pixies were together from 1986-1993 and released five studio albums. Come On Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa featured some awesome singles such as “Gigantic” and “Where is My Mind,” but ultimately sales were so-so. Then came 1989′s Doolittle.
Doolittle, to the uninitiated, might represent a struggle for continuity. You know and love “Here Comes Your Man” and “Monkey Gone To Heaven” from repeated radio listenings, but you don’t hear many a Pixies’ fan favorite “Debaser” much anymore on terrestrial radio. “Wave of Mutilation,” featured twice in two different forms during this concert, also has trouble maintaining any consistent radio waves. You can forget about hearing Pixie classics “Gouge Away, Hey and I Bleed” from this record unless you own it. Only three of the fifteen tracks clear the three minute mark, yet the record placed 226th on Rolling Stone Magazine’s prestigious Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time published in 2003. That is incredibly impressive.
If you live in a major metropolitan city like Boston with some 15 potential rock venues you sometimes have to pick and choose your concerts, particularly in this economy. No matter what the circumstances, when you see a band re-surface like The Pixies after years of squabbling and not knowing if they will ever come around again you have to make the effort to see them. It’s historic, it’s magical and they were terrific. If they come to your town go see them. They go on just after 9 PM. I spent almost as much money on the Live at Hammerstein (11-23-2009) CD they were hocking in the lobby before the show AND by shelling out $50 for what looked to be an ordinary cardboard poster of the cover of Doolittle (they swore they were only selling 15 of them per show…that’s probably right…there aren’t 15 suckers at each show to pay that kind of money) than I spent on three tickets, but I had a great time. You will too. The good news is I can now leave you with a copy of “Hey” from the Hammerstein CD for your enjoyment. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.
Set List – Dancing The Manta Ray, Weird at My School, Bailey’s Walk, Manta Ray, Debaser, Tame, Wave of Mutilation, I Bleed, Here Comes Your Man, Dead, Monkey Gone To Heaven, Mr Grieves, Crackity Jones, La La I Love You, Number 13 Baby, There Goes My Gun, Hey, Silver, Gouge Away
Encore I – Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf), Into The White
Encore II – Where is My Mind, Caribou, Vamos, Gigantic