When you’re as big a band as the Pixies, you have a certain luxury. You can basically play wherever you want.
But when you want to play as small a gig as T.T. the Bear’s, a spot where you played an early (and we mean second-public-show-ever-early) gig in your career, people will take notice. Coming back to that spot is pretty admirable. So, you might give that tiny audience more.
And, maybe you do. Lots more.
The assembled sold-out crowd of 300 or so at this smallest of venues, for the last night of the most recent Pixies tour, got a fantastic, energetic and exuberant exhibition. This is a band of whom Boston should be proud and that might never have been more evident than on Thursday night.
For anyone who saw the band at the most recent “Boston Calling” or at a theater, this current version of the Pixies (founding members: Black Francis; guitarist, Joey Santiago; and drummer David Lovering, joined by bassist Paz Lenchantin taking the spot of retired Kim Deal) have an incredible, seemingly innate ability to move with dexterity between both volume and tempo. Obviously this as always was what has defined the Pixies.
The opening T.T.’s simmer of “Ed Is Dead” leading into the pounding, “Holiday Song,” reinforced that idea, and for those who could see Santiago’s smiling countenance as he fired ringing riffs, it spoke volumes. Deal was an undeniable presence in the Pixies’ presentation but now the band seems completely at ease with Lenchantin (and her vocals are stellar). In this intimate a setting these Pixies do seem battle ready.
And that was not lost on the crowd, amped an whipped into a frenzy as it was. The fact that T.T.’s is soon to close seemed a bad dream in the energy of such a special night, and the smiles from T.T.‘s G.M. Kevin Patey, and the knowing nod from Crossroads’s Presents’ Kegan Harrington (who booked his first shows at T.T.’s and said of booking this one, “It absolutely had to happen here”), spoke to the history of the room. Nicely played.
And how the Pixies played that room. “Here Comes Your Man” was a swinging dance party; “Break My Body,” was a revelation for people who already knew. “Wave of Mutilation” (much like the later, “Where Is My Mind?”) seemed to be fodder for the younger crowd, until you saw them latch on to, “Number 13 Baby,” and it became so wonderfully clear that they got it. “Wishing that I had just something you wore.” Yes. Universal.
By this time in the evening, with basically everyone in presence smiling and acknowledging how fun the idea of seeing the Pixies at T.T.’s was, it was a fool’s errand to not lock in. That was easily solved when Black Francis reminded us of how we could, “Gouge away, and stay all day, if you want to.” That ringing Santiago guitar, Black Francis’ admonition that, “You can sleep all day if you want to.” As if that wasn’t enough, they backed it with, “UMass.” Yup. Wow.
And then they just powered on, and I do mean powered. “Something Against You?” Wow. The impressive crowd silence for “Subacultcha’s,” “Grope for Luna,” “La La Love You?” Check.
On a Thursday night, this band that had made their bones here, had actually played an early gig here, came back and then did it it again once last time. The Pixies were here, and they played one for the ages.
T.T.’s is dead, long live T.T.’s.