Tag Archives: Kim Deal

Concert Review: Pixies @ Massey Hall – Jan. 15, 2014

Pixies pave a motorway to weirdness at Massey Hall
By Tom Beedham (originally published via Aesthetic Magazine)

The last time Pixies graced a Toronto stage was in April 2011; the performance came under undeniably different circumstances. At the tail end of a globetrotting, two-year-long 20th anniversary tour for the band’s first international release, 1989’s Doolittle, fans piled into Massey Hall two nights in a row to celebrate a uniquely deranged album that frothed noisily at the mouth regarding subjects like surrealist painters and filmmakers, Biblical violence, and Japanese businessmen initiating murder-suicides with their families over failed business ventures. Having played Virgin Festival two years prior, the Molson Amphitheatre four years before that, and Mississauga’s Arrow Hall twice as part of their 2004 reunion tour, Massey Hall was the most intimate venue the band had played in or near the city since it graced The Silver Dollar in 1988.

The April 18, 2011 concert began with a standing ovation.

When original members Black Francis, David Lovering, and Joey Santiago returned to the same theatre last night sans Kim Deal, fans were less generous.

Despite balancing the first handful of songs between cuts from their earliest recordings and newer material, it wasn’t until Pixies got to popularly adored trunk song “Here Comes Your Man” — six tracks in — that the audience got to its feet and showed any real enthusiasm about the show. Granted, standing praise that welcomes concert sets is something of a rare event, but that the band was coming into town without the bassist and vocal harmony supplier to Black Francis’s caterwauling vocals couldn’t have boded well for the collective headspace the audience entered Massey Hall with. Maybe it was uneasiness over the elephant in (or missing from) the room that was bassist Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle, Zwan) stationed at what would have been Deal’s mic; maybe fans were waiting for their drinks to take their effect; maybe they were just comfortable in those nicely cushioned seats their concert-going behinds were not accustomed to. But the band’s approach to the gig was fairly uncompromising.

Even if it allowed fans to hear Surfer Rosa’s “Brick Is Red” and “Nimrod’s Son” from the Come On Pilgrim mini-LP early in the program, these songs didn’t come until after some confrontation. The concert kicked off with a gloomy, plodding “Silver Snail,” a track that remains so far unreleased even though Pixies have issued two four-track EPs since Deal’s sudden departure from the band in June last year. They followed that immediately thereafter with an interpretation of Peter Ivers’s “In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song), first recorded by the band for its first demo in 1987.

How the second of these proceedings could be read as confrontational requires some elucidation, but it comes down to the delivery: now a regular fixture of Pixies live shows, when the band started playing “In Heaven” live, Black Francis sung it; Kim Deal eventually took over those duties in concert upon the band’s reunion, but Francis has now reassumed lead vocal duties. This implies that even though Pixies favoured recruiting a bassist/singer that was also a woman to maintain the diversity (sonic and otherwise) that Deal once brought to the table, it doesn’t mean that the band will continue to exist or act as it did with Deal still participating, nor should we expect it to.

This wasn’t the only moment of the concert coloured with perceivable (misdirected?) audience contempt: when Pixies got to the uber-popular “Where Is My Mind?” they sped through it at an accelerated pace, effectually making a listener’s darling into an inaccessible experiment in fast-forwarding. Other bands like Dinosaur Jr. have applied similar methods to popular songs such as “Feel the Pain” and made it work, but when Pixies did it last night, it just came off as sloppy: Francis stumbled over lyrics and some key note progressions were botched or missed entirely. Beyond raising unanswered questions about artistic responsibility to their songs and the fans that loved them, it made some wonder at why the band bothered playing it at all.

Maybe it was a joke. It still received what was probably the loudest and longest sustained applause of the entire night.

It wasn’t all disappointing and soul crushing, of course. Even without Kim Deal, this was the Pixies. They played a 33-song, hour-and-45-minute set that was heavy on cuts from Surfer Rosa and Doolittle, they debuted EP2 cut “Snakes” and the other new songs sounded great, new inductee Lenchantin rightfully shined under the spotlight (literally and figuratively) on bass-propelled tracks like “Hey,” “Bone Machine,” and “Gouge Away,” and during “Vamos,” guitarist Joey Santiago facilitated an epic, two-and-a-half-minute noise solo from the centre of the stage, swinging his guitar around and playing it backwards against his body, waving at fans as he fiddled with his pickup toggle while the feedback played out. It just got a little… weird. But that’s what makes the Pixies so great.

Pixies Setlist
1. “Silver Snail”
2. “In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)” (Peter Ivers cover)
3. “Andro Queen”
4. “Nimrod’s Son”
5. “Brick Is Red”
6. “Another Toe in the Ocean”
7. “Here Comes Your Man”
8. “La La Love You”
9. “Indie Cindy”
10. “Motorway to Roswell”
11. “Bone Machine”
12. “I’ve Been Tired”
13. “Tony’s Theme”
14. “Levitate Me”
15. “Bagboy”
16. “Magdalena”
17. “Snakes” (live debut)
18. “Ana”
19. “Cactus”
20. “Monkey Gone to Heaven”
21. “Hey”
22. “Greens and Blues”
23. “Where Is My Mind?”
24. “Gouge Away”
25. “Debaser”
26. “Broken Face”
27. “Head On” (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover)
28. “What Goes Boom”
29. “Blue Eyed Hexe”
30. “Something Against You”
31.“Vamos” (2.5 minute noise solo)

33. “Planet of Sound”

Originally published via Aesthetic Magazine.


The Breeders celebrate ‘Last Splash’ at Danforth Music Hall

Kim Deal (left), Josephine Wiggs (centre), Jim MacPherson (back), and Kelley Deal (left) recently reformed to bring a 20th anniversary celebration of their 1993 Breeders album, Last Splash. (Photo by Tom Beedham)

Kim Deal (left), Josephine Wiggs (centre), Jim MacPherson (back), and Kelley Deal (left) recently reformed to bring a 20th anniversary celebration of their 1993 Breeders album, Last Splash, on tour. (Photo by Tom Beedham)

The Breeders have been doing music for 23 years and counting, but they’re mostly recognized as a bastion of grunge-y ’90s guitar rock. Blame that on the group’s many periods of inactivity – beholden to Kim Deal’s varying Pixies-related obligations and other band members turning back to their fulltime bands and solo projects; a couple handfuls of lineup changes; Kelley Deal’s 1994 heroin bust, rehabilitation, and the band’s subsequent hiatus; etc. – but the group’s never really thrown in the towel.

Still, due to all of the distractions The Breeders have had to entertain, they were never really given a shot at properly touring their 1993 full length, Last Splash.

Enter “LSXX,” the group’s marketing of their current tour and 20th anniversary celebration of their critically acclaimed and most popular album. The tour sees the band – reformed with its 1993 lineup of Kim and Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs, and Jim MacPherson paying (and playing) homage to its cornerstone album as faithfully as possible.

When the LSXX tour rolled into Danforth Music Hall on May 11, they gave anyone looking for a taste of (in some cases adopted) nostalgia a big steaming buffet.

The stage setup honouring Last Splash right down to the gear, a set of wind chimes joined Macpherson’s drum kit – the very same chimes used when the group recorded Last Splash at Coast Recorders & Brilliant Sounds in San Francisco in 1993, Kim announced – for execution of a fully steadfast performance of “Invisible Man.”

In a similar vein, Macpherson and Wiggs swapped drum and bass duties for “Roi” since that was how it was recorded. Despite all their efforts at providing an authentic rendering of their album, the group couldn’t swing carting the Minimoog featured on the same song.

“Minimoogs are hard to travel with, so we sampled it,” said Kim, motioning to a sampler placed by the bass stacks.

When Kim told the crowd, “Kelley has the blues,” before her sister took over vocal duties for “I Just Wanna Get Along,” fans even received some of the candidness that’s built directly into Last Splash; responding with her regrets that she couldn’t follow her sister’s cue with an improvised blues riff, Kelley echoed her 1992 self, who, just entering the band as the group’s (then) third guitarist, didn’t really know how to play her instrument.

The band were also joined onstage by Carrie Bradley, who’s performed additional instruments (violin, keyboard, tambourine) for Breeders recordings and tours as early as their 1990 debut LP, Pod, and as late as their 2008 full length, Mountain Battles. Bradley’s band Ed’s Redeeming Qualities also wrote “Drivin’ on 9,” covered by The Breeders on Last Splash.

The group played through the 15-track LP in its original sequence, getting their most successful single, “Cannonball” (to which Kim sang the fuzzier bits through a styrofoam cup fixed over a mic) out of the way early in the set rather than holding onto it for an encore presentation, as some might have anticipated.

Immediately following album closer “Roi (Reprise),” The Breeders exited the stage, letting fans’ imaginations run wild. All they’d been promised was Last Splash, after all. But the crowd response to The Breeders’ set was nothing to be denied an encore, and the band soon returned to deliver numbers culled from releases for which the bulk of the members onstage could claim putting in studio hours: Pod as well as the Safari and Head to Toe (1992 and 1994) EPs.

The band played through their versions of Guided By Voices’ “Shocker in Gloomtown,” and The Beatles’ “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” as well as “Lime House,” “Oh!,” and “Don’t Call Home” to round out the night, but not without some crowd interaction. Surveying the crowd for more material they could consider learning for a later gig, they acknowledged one front-and-centre fan that requested Pod’s “Iris.”

Last Splash rises and falls from fuzzy ragers you could throw on a party playlist to some more chilled out ballads, and for some albums, that won’t translate well in a concert setting. But on May 11, The Breeders proved that an album as definitive of alternative rock as Last Splash is won’t do anything but put concert-long smiles on all those in the room – Breeders members and fans alike.

“Thanks for helping us celebrate this,” Kim and Kelley had both said by the end of the night. And there was no doubting their sincerity.


“New Year”


“Invisible Man”

“No Aloha”


“Do You Love Me Now”


“I Just Wanna Get Along”

“Mad Lucas”

“Divine Hammer”




“Drivin’ on 9”

“Roi (Reprise)”


“Shocker in Gloomtown” (Guided By Voices)

“Happiness is a Warm Gun” (The Beatles)

“Lime House”


“Don’t Call Home”