On Sunday night at the Paramount, the Pixies dove into its swirling soundscape with honed synchronicity, hardly once coming up for air.
On Sunday night at the Paramount, the Pixies dove into its swirling soundscape with honed synchronicity, hardly once coming up for air. As green spotlights probed the crowd, the band, led by singer and songwriter Black Francis, delivered both his diverse songwriting and a smart use of space, dynamics, and dark surrealism.
Though the Boston-bred band is currently touring in promotion of “Head Carrier,” its second full-length album since its 2004 reunion, the Pixies first began in 1986. By the early 1990s, the band had several releases, most notably its debut mini-LP “Come on Pilgrim,” 1988’s “Surfer Rosa,” and 1989’s “Doolittle.” The band split in 1994, though it’d obtained modest success and a faithful cult following. Since 2013, Paz Lenchantin has been bassist for the Pixies, replacing original bassist Kim Deal, who left because of artistic differences.
The Pixies’ connection to grunge — as one of Kurt Cobain’s biggest influences, for one — was potent in Sunday’s Seattle set. This was especially obvious during the fast, hard-driving numbers like “Crackity Jones” and “Um Chagga Lagga” that thrived on grunge’s quintessential distorted eighth note bass lines, and in the morose, apathetic spirit of songs like “Might as Well Be Gone.”
Sunday, Dec. 3, Paramount Theatre, Seattle
But the Pixies was more than “pre-grunge” on Sunday, too. The meandering “Snakes,” off its post-reunion album, “Indie Cindy,” and the elaborate, ska-like freneticism of “Mr. Grieves” showed the band’s ability to experiment with complex harmonies and rhythms. Additionally, “Havalina” and “Emma” showcased softer, more tender inclinations.
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The diversity of the set is impressive considering the Pixies was not touring with a set-list. Instead, the band members rehearsed their catalog of more than seventy songs so Francis could call whatever he felt like in the moment. The Seattle show, thus, was a completely unique lineup, with the aim of creating a unique experience for fans. There was no banter or pause between songs either.
“I like that they just played the music and didn’t talk,” said concertgoer Valoree Kaye. “And that they still sound like the Pixies.”
The band closed with a gritty cover of the Neil Young song “Winterlong,” and two encores — “Hey” and “Vamos” — before each of the musicians came out personally to bow and wave at fans from the stage.
Overall, Seattle fans were ecstatic that the set included the band’s big radio hit, “Where is My Mind?” as well as the slower, more intimate U.K. version of “Wave of Mutilation.”
“That was our make-out song,” said concertgoer Jason Suttle, squeezing his wife. “The Pixies make me so nostalgic!”