Live Review: // The Pixies in Winnipeg | The Pixies in Ottawa

June 8, 2011

Pixies in Winnipeg | Courtesy of Teenage Dogs In Trouble

Every big fan of influential Boston band The Pixies has a story of the first time they ever heard them and how it affected  them.  For me it was early winter, 1991. I was up late in my bedroom quietly listening is CBC’s late night alternative radio show Brave New Waves. It was a school night. With no introduction at the end of a set of songs by several other bands came what I thought at the time to be the catchiest intro in a song I had ever heard and these lyrics:

Got me a movie / I want you to know / slicing up eyeballs / I want you to know / girlie so groovy / I want you to know / don’t know about you / but I am un chien Andalusia / I am un chien Andalusia / I am un chien Andalusia / I am un chien Andalusia / wanna grow / up to be / be a Debaser.

Just like that I was a sold. They had me. I desperately listened to the radio, turning the volume up slightly to hear it better at the risk of waking up my family. Knowing that songs and band names were not not always announced or readily made available on Brave New Waves after they played. I didn’t move a muscle as I heard

“That was Pixies with Debaser from 1989’s Doolittle.”

That weekend I purchased my first Pixies cassette tape and the rest of course is history. A history they included the Pixies breaking up in 1993 and reuniting in 2004. That reunion & touring has lasted 7 years so far, more years than many people thought the band was capable of. With a current tour that has been celebrating the release of arguably their best album Doolittle.  It was the first Pixies album I’d ever heard and it’s still my favorite. A tour where the band is playing the entire album in track order (or at the time of the original release: Side A and Side B in order). So even though I’m reviewing the concert from two different cities it’s essentially the same show with the same set list. With the only real differences being the venues, the crowd and the atmosphere.

Unlike previous Pixies tours where the stage sets were bare minimum the Doolittle tour features giant glowing lanterns and video that coincided with each song. The show itself started with an edited version of the 1929 surrealist film Un Chien Andalou by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. The film notoriously opens with a scene in which a woman’s eye is slit by a razor, which is referenced in the song lyric and inspired the song Debaser.

Even though both shows had essentially the same set list they each had a very different feel. The Ottawa show was at the Ottawa Civic Centre – a cavernous old Junior hockey arena whereas the Winnipeg show was at the Centennial Concert hall where the symphony and ballet perform. The Winnipeg show felt much more intimate with no barrier in front of the stage. The Ottawa show had surprisingly good sound for an old barn but felt more chaotic at times with rush floor seating.  Both cities were treated to encores of songs from other Pixies albums with the only difference being a cover of Neil Young’s Winterlong at the Winnipeg show (which the band also performed in Winnipeg in 2004).

Pixies in Winnipeg | Courtesy of Teenage Dogs In Trouble

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