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The Pixies head to Detroit for a show built around legendary album 'Doolittle'

Apr 21, 2011



7:30 p.m. Fri.

Fox Theatre

2211 Woodward



$35, $59.50

The Pixies weren't sure what they were in for when they reunited in 2004, nearly a dozen years after splitting up and leaving one of the most celebrated legacies in the realm of modern rock.

But it clicked, big-time: Having re-emerged that year to rousing success -- including a now-legendary Coachella performance and three Detroit concerts -- the Boston-bred quartet kept plugging away, returning annually for festival call-ups and nostalgia-soaked theater runs. By fall 2009, the band was primed for something different and worked up a lengthy set based around "Doolittle," the 1989 sophomore album that put a more accessible glow on the Pixies' arty, jagged-edged indie rock.

What was supposed to be a quick dash of dates has turned into an 18-month tour for mercurial front man Black Francis, guitarists Kim Deal and Joey Santiago and drummer Dave Lovering.

Lovering, an affable Rush fan and part-time magician, spoke with the Free Press as the Pixies set their sights on a Friday show in Detroit -- the group's first in seven years.

QUESTION: This "Doolittle" tour just keeps going and going. Would you have expected to get this much mileage out of it?

ANSWER: It began about four years ago when we were doing a little regular reunion, just regular shows. At the time, there was a "step back in time" type of event, where a band would reunite and do one of their best albums, just one night only in one city. So we talked about it. Friends were pointing out that "Doolittle" was coming up on its 20th anniversary. Everyone regards it as a classic album -- which I'll go with, fine. (Laughs) We got to talking, and decided: Why not just make it a full production?

It's the biggest production we've ever had as a band. Great lighting, a screen behind us, different video directors doing interpretations of each song on the album. We do the songs A to Z. It makes it a full package.

And I think we play all right. It's been going on so long now. We thought the tour would end last year. Little did we know we'd be doing Canada and more parts of the U.S.

Q: What has made "Doolittle" continue to resonate through the years?

A: When we did (the debut album) "Surfer Rosa" -- which is probably one of our favorites as well -- that had kind of set up our sound as a band. So when "Doolittle" came around, it was a change. We weren't using (producer) Steve Albini with that rawer sound. It was much more polished and produced.

But the songs were still a progression of where we were going. We were lucky enough to come up with a bunch of dynamic and catchy songs. It was an album where each song could stand on its own. I think that's what got attention, and I think that's why it still stands up.

Q: Who are your live audiences these days? So many important bands have name-checked the Pixies in the past two decades -- I'd imagine you've got younger fans who are showing up just to get a peek into the mystique.

A: (On the first reunion tour) in 2004, we were surprised. It was close to 80% kids who weren't even born when our records came out, at the shows singing along like crazy, loving it, knowing all the words. Then there was the other 20% there wishing they could still sing it. (Laughs)

It's been the same on the "Doolittle" tour. Though when I think about it, it might actually be a little older there -- people going for the nostalgia and reminiscing.

Q: What are the interpersonal dynamics among the four of you now? There was a lot of time apart, and now a fair bit of time back together.

A: We're older now. (Laughs). OK, older and wiser. We're getting along better. So older, wiser and I think playing better. We're watching our p's and q's more. If you want to make life easier, you know how to take care of that.

Q: What was it like getting back behind a drum kit after so long, and how do you see your musical role with "Doolittle" specifically?

A: I had not played drums in 12 years (at the time of the '04 reunion). But it was all instinctive, like riding a bike. The thing I had to work on was just getting my chops up, getting going. And it's been good for me. I say jokingly now that "Doolittle" is a breeze because it's such an easy album for me to play compared to our others.

Q: You spent your post-Pixies years becoming what I'm told is a very proficient magician. Do you see a common thread there between whatever drew you to both music and magic?

A: If you told me 20 years ago, "You'll be a magician," I'd have just laughed and kept laughing. But a friend of mine (musician Grant-Lee Phillips) practiced a little magic, and a few years ago he invited me down to a convention. I saw my first magic trick -- not the typical act you see growing up -- and it just blew me away. So I had to become a magician, and I did everything I could to learn.

Magic and music are almost the same -- there's just a couple letters off between them. (Laughs) They both inspire, both give wonder and awe. Magic has the subtext of making the impossible possible, but I don't know if that translates with a band.

With the Pixies, I'm behind three other musicians onstage. I never got nervous. But when I did my first magic show, you could have filled up a Dixie cup with the sweat. I was so nervous. But practice makes perfect.

Q: Any headway toward a new Pixies album?

A: We've been talking about it for four years now, so if we do something, everyone has to be at ease doing it. It's in the back of our minds hoping we actually can. Whatever you do, you don't want to sit back and regret it. We all love the laurels we have, standing on what we did before. If we do an album, we have to be cautious that it's really good, that it stands up there. We'd hate to put up something bad. There are people who have reunited who have done more worse than good for themselves.

But (the touring) has definitely pushed us to the point of doing something, if only because of the chops. We're at a longer tenure now than our original run. We're all playing pretty well. So it's just about the comfort and ease. Fingers are crossed.

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Thanks for that Bong Man!

I'm going to this show when they hit Vancouver in May.

We cover a few Pixies tunes. 3 from the Doolittle album.

We sometimes close with 'Gouge Away'. But enough about me! lol

Lovering is great though.....

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Reincarnated Pixies in tip-top shape at Fox

Detroit — There's a strange sort of poetic justice in the Pixies' second coming.

The Boston-based alt-rock pioneers never really got to enjoy their success or see their influence the first time around, and suffered through a bitter breakup in 1993, just as the sound they helped usher in exploded across the nation's airwaves. But since the group's 2004 reunion they've toured steadily and enjoyed a rare encore for their career. Oddly, they've been together longer now than they were in the first place.

Since 2009, the band has been performing its 1989 album "Doolittle" in its entirety, and what was first conceived as a 20th anniversary tour of the album has now become simply a celebration of an alternative rock classic.

The band brought "Doolittle" and its assorted B-sides to a sold-out Fox Theatre on Friday, and fans didn't need an anniversary date on which to hang the evening. They were happy to simply see the Pixies back in tip-top shape, methodically tearing through one of the era's defining works.

There were few surprises unveiled during the 90-minute performance, which opened with four B-sides before "Doolittle" opener "Debaser" began the album portion of the evening.

But "Doolittle" sounded as meaty as ever, with Pixies classics like "Here Comes Your Man" and "Monkey Gone to Heaven" mixing with punk scorchers like "Tame" and playful valentines like "La La Love You." Five orbs hung above the stage and a large video screen acted as a backdrop, while frontman Black Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago, bassist Kim Deal and drummer Dave Lovering worked through the record like seasoned pros.

Their reincarnation has made them incredibly tight as an outfit - working through "Doolittle" every night for nearly two years certainly has helped - yet there is still a loose, lighthearted quality within the band's dynamic. Deal is especially lively, and gamely played off the boos she received when shouting out her hometown of Dayton, Ohio.

Following album closer "Gouge Away," the band returned for an encore that saw them work through a slowed-down, swinging "Wave of Mutilation" and a version of "Into the White" that featured as much fog as some metal shows go through in an entire concert.

A second encore — performed with the house lights up — saw the band take on "U-Mass" and "Vamos," before a show-closing "Where is My Mind" and "Gigantic." And that was it - no gimmicks, no frills, just a band playing at its peak for a hugely receptive audience, and finally getting its due.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110423/OPINION03/104230370/Reincarnated-Pixies-in-tip-top-shape-at-Fox#ixzz1KXI6ZCFd

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