Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Pixies @ Olympia, Paris - March 27th, 2024

The Pixies were a legendary band for those of us who grew up during the so-called "Grunge" era. While Nirvana was selling out arenas the world over, reaping the seeds of a formula that had largely been sown by the Bostonians during the preceding decade, the originators of that sound were broken up, each member embarking into other ventures. When they eventually returned to active duty in 2003, the Pixies were no longer "alternative": they were a myth, which most of the fans would finally get to see live. 

It's now over twenty years later, and the band's second tenure outlasted the first one by a nearly 4 to 1 ratio, so it should come as no surprise that the band is now regarded as a classic outfit, selling out theaters and arenas all across the globe. Still, to be wrapping up a tour with three sold-out Paris Olympias a mere year since their two-date engagement in the same venue is an astonishing accomplishment which few (if any) band of that era can attain.

This time around, the setlists are centered around the last two records from their first iteration: Bossanova and Trompe Le Monde, which they play in full and in sequence. What this conceit lacks in surprise, it more than makes up in sheer crowd-pleasing predictability: after the lights came out and the shards of feedback had dissipated, Joey Santiago played the first notes of Cecilia Ann, the Surftones cover that opens Bossanova, and the audience went absolutely apeshit, never to let down until the very end over two hours later, on the Trompe Le Monde closer the Navajo Know. Consequently, there aren't a lot of differences between each gig, except for the short encores. Last night, these consisted of The Vegas Suite, a new unreleased song, Wave of MutilationWhere Is My Mind and Here Comes Your Man. One could always bemoan the absence of such or such song (Debaser comes to mind...) but this is about as perfect a set closer as you could imagine.

Emma Richardson, from the English outfit Band of Skulls, has replaced Paz Lenchantin on the bass guitar and backing vocals, but even then it's business as usual for The Pixies. There are no rock star poses, no egotistic crowd work, no stage heroics and the banter is kept to an absolute minimum: they came to play, and they came to rock. And rock they did. But this begs the question: if even these once unpredictable purveyors of noise and anger are now mining the nostalgia market, who, in the current "market", will provide the alternative to this alternative?

Experience or re-live the concert by playing the setlist in the embedded Apple Music player below
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