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Concert Reviews:
Pixies remind Fox Theatre crowd of "Doolittle's" virtues

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Saturday, April 23, 2011

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DETROIT -- When the Pixies released their "Doolittle" album in 1989, it was a bona fide alternative kind of rock album, something that sounded different and individualist from most everything else at the time.

And it still sounds that way in 2011.

The Pixies, who reunited in 2004 after a 12-year breakup, have spent parts of the past two years on the road celebrating "Doolittle's" anniversary and play the 15-song set in its front-to-back entirety. At the sold-out Fox Theatre on Friday night (April 22), the album sounded as subversive and provocative as when it was originally released, played with spikey verve by the Boston-formed quartet as it ripped through its edgy blasts of dissonance ("Debaser," "Tame," "Crackity Jones," "There Goes My Gun") and the more readily accessible melodies of "Here Comes Your Man" and "La La Love You," accompanied by videos both arty and goofy, including one of the Pixies bowing and doing the wave after it completed the recitation.

While the lion's share of attention paid to the band has long gone to frontman Charles Thompson (aka Black Francis) and bassist Kim Deal, but since the Pixies' resurrection guitarist Joey Santiago and drummer David Lovering -- both still in trim, fighting form -- have reminded audiences how essential they are as well. That was certainly true Friday as Santiago delivered sharp solos on "I Bleed," the blues-flavored "Hey" and "Gouge Away," and Lovering drove the group through the songs' challenging dynamics and even took a lead vocal on "La La Love You."

The Pixies bolstered the "Doolittle" experience by bookending the album performance with B-sides both familiar ("Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)," an epic "Into the White") and obscure ("Dancing the Manta Ray," "Weird at My School, "Bailey's Walk," "Manta Ray"). And the band didn't ignore the rest of its four-album ouvre, either, with a second encore set that included favorites such as "U-Mass," "Vamos," "Where is My Mind?" and the ebullient "Gigantic," at the end of which Deal -- who had several family members from Dayton in the crowd -- told her bandmates she was headed off to bed.

She may have rested easily, but rest assured that anyone checking out Friday's show was likely kept awake by the buzz from a stellar performance of one of rock's truly original and time-marking albums.

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