Reviews

'The Pixies: Acoustic & Electric Live': Having the Time of Their Lives

Starting in the mid-’80s, the Pixies laid the foundation for indie/alternative/Britpop/grunge music for decades to come. See two incredible live performances on one Blu-ray with this set.


Pixies

The Pixies: Acoustic & Electric Live

Subtitle: Acoustic & Electric
Label: Eagle Rock
UK Release Date: 2010-08-23
US Release Date: 2010-08-24
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

This Blu-ray disc includes two complete Pixies gigs from 2005, previously available as separate DVDs. The band, touring after ten years working on separate projects, showcase their catalog in two completely different venues.

On the one hand we have a relatively intimate evening show at a Boston nightclub, and on the other we have an afternoon session at the folk festival in Newport, Rhode Island, right on the harbor with a far flung audience lounging in their boats. Pixies members Frank Black, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, and David Lovering pull together excellent performances in both environments.

The longer set is a live electric session taped at the Paradise in Boston with an audience of around 200. Twenty nine songs comprise the evening, which has a slow start as the band finds their energy, but includes all the good stuff true fans will love to revisit. Some of the banter between band members is a bit forced, but overall this is an excellent lengthy set of the Pixies’ best songs.

The venue is a medium-sized nightclub type of location, with most fans in close proximity to the band. Strangely, the lighting is set up so that the audience can be seen from many camera angles, as they’re practically as well lit as the musicians.

The folk festival performance is better orchestrated with more space for the band to enjoy the atmosphere on a beautiful summery afternoon. This is the band’s first ever all-acoustic set, and includes 22 tunes. Bassist Kim Deal kicks things off, garnering loud applause with her simple remark and sweet smile: “We're the pixies. We're a rock band.” There’s a nice view of the harbor and crowd, which makes more sense than being able to see the Paradise crowd in Boston, as the folk festival session happens in broad daylight in Fort Adams State Park.

This acoustic set is also a bit slow to start, but the energy really picks up halfway through and the crowd is having a great time. Camera shots come from a variety of angles, and occasionally the line of sight shows another camera moving above the crowd, only to have the view cut to the second camera, which is a cool birds-eye-view effect.

Deal looks like she’s having the absolute time of her life backing up Black with her bass and sultry low vocal harmonies. Joey Santiago looks awkward and shifty playing guitar, continuously distracted. If his thoughts could have been subtitled, I think they’d read something like this: “Did I leave the oven on? Geez, where are my keys? Is that guy over there looking at me funny?” David Lovering is an epically cool percussionist, bopping away in the background in front of a giant fan, wearing white linen and a beaded necklace.

The Pixies’ rendition of “Where is my Mind” is great, nearly closing out the acoustic performance. As an encore, “Gigantic” leaves something to be desired. With the sun in their eyes, the band are ready to get off stage at this point but have definitely worked hard for an adoring crowd.

Bonus features on the Blu-ray includes acoustic rehearsal sessions as the band prepared for Newport’s folk festival show. And original home movie style footage of the Pixies’ early career, playing live at TT The Bear’s in Boston from October 1986, is a unique look at musical documentation in an era before every Joe Schmuck in the audience could use his smartphone to record multiple versions of a live set and upload it before the music stops.

The Pixies’ recently revamped homepage is a stellar example of a band reaching out to fans to build up a website full of great content. It’s possible to upload footage from any concert to Youtube, tag it with the band’s name and the date of the show, and the video gets automatically linked to the website. The site requests fan help with creating the ultimate “multimedia gigography” of performances. With new tour dates planned across Canada following open location voting on Facebook, live performances available on Blu-ray as well as online for cheap download, and a foothold in social media (see: @pixies), the Pixies clearly aren’t going to fade away any time soon.

7


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