Wednesday, June 30, 2010
When the Pixies decided to jump on the "full album live" train last year to perform their seminal "Doolittle" LP for the masses, I was fully on board. The trend that seems to have started with ATP's original "Don't Look Back" shows is still going strong, and while it's easy to be cynical in the face of such obvious cash-raking nostalgia, it becomes impossible to resist when one of those albums is among your favorites of all time. I've long held that the best four-song start to any record ever is the "Debaser" / "Tame" / "Wave Of Mutilation" / "I Bleed" quatro-punch that starts "Doolittle" (go ahead, argue with me), and some of the most vivid memories of my entire life involve laying on the rocks of the off-limits Williston (Vermont) quarry, eyes closed after an illegal swim, drying off in the sun as the cassette played loudly from a nearby boom-box. From the intro bass line of "Debaser", I'm taken right back there.
So when the first run of these "Doolittle" gigs was announced last year, free will played no part in my decision to attend. In fact, the word 'decision' played no part. Tickets to the second of two late-November Boston stops were purchased on auto-pilot, and fate smiled upon Amie and I with some amazing seats. I'd seen the foursome in smaller venues, and larger (including the ill-fated, band-crushing opening slot tour with U2), but never, ever so ridiculously close. I didn't give a good goddamn which phase of their career they were in - I'd be in the f'in third row. So close that I wouldn't even complain if I wasn't on Kim's side of the stage (ok, maybe just a little).
Speaking of trends, here's one I look forward to seeing more of: Near-instant gratification from bands who record their own live shows and offer them up to fans as a keepsake. Yeah, it's been going on for years in certain circles, but with technology, the turnaround time has been shrinking dramatically, and spreading to non-hippy bands (i.e. ones I actually like). When I saw the Trashcan Sinatras last year, all you had to do was hang around after the show for about 15 minutes and you could buy a custom USB stick that contained a huge, unedited MP3 of the entire set, recorded via laptop from the board by one of the guitarists. How 'bout that? (sidenote: The Trashcans just finished up a tour in support of their excellent new album, which has now been released in the US. You can still buy recordings from the previous tour here.)
And so the Pixies, enabled by the folks at Abbey Road Live (composed of the same core crew behind Live Here Now and DiscLive), decided to document the entirety of their "Doolittle" retrospective tour. Not only could fans pre-order better-than-soundboard recordings of their shows and pick them up soon after the band left the stage, but even those who couldn't make it were able to snag the full sets over at DoolittleLive. It was a boon for fanatics and collectors, as they discussed the best performances and best quality recordings over at the band's (currently down) official message board. And it was, of course, a boon for the band as well, funneling even more nostalgia-fueled income their way. Simple economics.
Well, it was simple until the tour hit Boston, of course. As the band, and Abbey Road Live, tried to set up to record those two nights, they hit a snag: namely the local union crew working the Wang/Citi Center. I know some details, not enough to explain it clearly, but the end result was pretty straightforward: No live documentation of the band's long-awaited visit to what many consider their hometown, performing an album they wrote and recorded near that very venue. A damn shame for those looking forward to either reliving it or experiencing it from a distance.
Well, with this post, I try to ease that sting a little. You can thank a fellow taper who goes by the name emorency/BennyBlanco, and the fact that he was paying close attention when the Abbey Road crew announced, after the first show, that they weren't permitted to record either show. Unlike me, he brought his gear to night number two, knowing it would be lost to the ages if he didn't, and came up with the goods.
So with his permission, and with the "unofficial" permission of Abbey Road and the band (meaning this won't be up for long, and could disappear more quickly if 'the man' comes around), here is the Pixies' triumphant performance of "Doolittle" in Boston on Saturday night, November 28th, 2009. Yes, they closed with "UMass", and it was glorious. Don't settle for this recording, though... be sure you visit DoolittleLive and look around for other notable shows from the band's long retrospective tour. Support this whole official live-recording business model by throwing more tall dollars their way.
My commentary on the show, such as it is, follows below. Enjoy...
Live at the Wang Theatre / Citi Center
in Boston, Massachusetts
on Saturday, November 28th, 2009
Audience recording by BennyBlanco/ScreamingSlave
Mics = DPA 4061 > Custom BB > R09HR @ 24/96
Mastering & EQ in SF 9 > Downsample to 24/48 > MP3 @ 320/44
Location = Front Row Mezzanine
download the entire set as a 208 MB .zip file
02. Dance The Manta Ray
03. Weird At My School
04. Bailey's Walk
05. Manta Ray
08. Wave Of Mutilation
09. I Bleed
10. Pixies Speak
11. Here Comes Your Man
13. Kim Speaks
14. Monkey Gone To Heaven
15. Kim Speaks
16. Mr. Grieves
17. Crackity Jones
18. Kim Speaks
19. La La Love You
20. Kim Speaks
21. No. 13 Baby
22. Kim Speaks
23. There Goes My Gun
24. Kim Speaks
26. Kim Speaks
28. Gouge Away
30. Kim Speaks
31. Wave Of Mutilation [UK Surf]
32. Into The White
34. Kim Speaks
35. Isla De Encanta
36. Holiday Song
37. Nimrod's Son
38. Where Is My Mind?
Some personal highlights, from my spot in the 3rd row...
The band recently announced another string of U.S. "Doolittle" tourdates, hitting some spots they missed the first time around. Here's the itinerary, all in September...
Sept. 7th @ Tower Theatre, Philadelphia, PAThe band's official website is in the process of being relaunched, so you should get over there right now, just in case that relaunch doesn't include the free live "Doolittle" EP they have available for download.
Last year, 4AD released the massive (and massively priced) Pixies MINOTAUR boxset. If I didn't already own all of its contents (and had just won the lottery), I would have been all over it. Beautifully designed (of course) by 4AD art director Vaughan Oliver, it uses both original and new work from photographer Simon Larbalestier, whose images have helped aesthetically define the band since their first release. Here's a video 'trailer' for the boxset, which is really more of a mini-documentary (clocking in at 30 minutes). It was filmed at the one-night London release event showcasing that new-and-old artwork, and features chats with Oliver and Larbalestier, along with Kim, Frank, and David, and most importantly, a surprise live set from the band. Check out full performances of "Hey", "No. 13", "Monkey Gone To Heaven", "Debaser", "Planet Of Sound", "Dig Fire", "Bone Machine", and "Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf)"...
In between their seemingly never-ending reunion jaunts, each Pixie keeps their individual musical juices moving on their own ongoing projects...
As ever, listen to any and all 'Nac-hosted Mp3s at the Hype Machine.
the fine print... If anyone has an issue with these MP3s being made available, just let me know (my contact info in the 'nac faq). Files are made available for a limited time, and are generally not reposted once removed.
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
previously: joy formidable - boston 2011
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