Published Dec 13, 2019For their last scheduled show of the year, Pixies played to an intimate crowd at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. Their comprehensive, two-hour set included their most nostalgic hits, as well as a good mix of tracks from their new album, Beneath the Eyrie.
Hours before the show, a notice was sent out that opening act Kristin Hersh was unavailable, and Toronto-based duo, Ice Cream, would be stepping up to fill the opener slot. The duo traded vocal duties and played only the electric guitar and keyboard over a backing track for their minimal set.
Pixies vocalist Black Francis played comfortably, never rushing through a song, and the band built up their energy gradually, starting with a slow rendition of "Wave of Mutilation" and eventually coming alive during songs like "Planet of Sound" and "Vamos." During "Vamos," guitarist Joey Santiago played the discordant instrumentals using his cap in place of a guitar pick, at times using the cap's brim to play the more detailed notes and then using the crown of the cap to strum.
In between songs, fans yelled out birthday wishes to bassist Paz Lenchantin. She played deftly throughout the night and provided a soft contrast to Francis's occasionally rough vocals. The crowd reacted positively to new songs like "Long Rider," "Catfish Kate" and "On Graveyard Hill," but the crowd's enthusiasm could not be matched when they played songs like "Where Is My Mind?" and "Here Comes Your Man."
Onstage, the Pixies were seemingly no-nonsense, playing song after song without stage banter or chatting with the crowd. They knew they had a captive audience, which was especially apparent when they played "Hey." Francis took his time after the opening line, letting the crowd's anticipation rise, and sparking one of the louder sing-alongs of the night.
Nearing the end of their set, Francis unexpectedly stopped playing in the middle of a song to talk. "Sometimes, when you stop playing a song, there's no going back and you just have to start playing a new song," he explained. The opening notes of "Debaser" immediately following sent the crowd wild. The Pixies skipped doing an encore in favour of playing non-stop, finishing the night with a performance of "Bone Machine."