Video: The Pixies Play “Here Comes Your Man” on Conan

11/09/2009 4:16 PM |

See, the thing about getting pissed off when a band goes on a shameless reunion tour, then releases a pointless (and very poorly made) live DVD chronicling the shameless reunion tour, then goes on another shameless reunion tour to support the pointless DVD, then shamelessly releases a $500 box set before heading out on another reunion tour, this one to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of their records, all without writing so much as a single note of new music, is that you then kinda look like a dick when you have to acknowledge that they might actually still sound pretty fucking good. And they didn’t even put a tip jar out in front of the stage! Which I totally thought they might!

The Pixies‘ performance of their best known song, “Here Comes Your Man,” looks like what you might imagine their rehearsals would look like, which would be far more irritating if they hadn’t always acted exactly like this. They’ve never been the most energetic live band on the planet—a fact that certainly does nothing to help ease the sneaking suspicion you have at the outset that the entire thing is being completely dialed in. It’s a problem I can see Pavement running into next year as well.

Pay close attention, though: Frank Black’s voice has taken on some amazing character over the years, with a raspy new layer that he seems to have complete control over. Kim Deal’s backing vocals sound sweet as ever, and she’s even improving upon them with a subtle change in her inflection toward the end of each line, adding what actually seems like a hint of twang to the mix. Joey Santiago messes with the phrasing of the guitar melody just a little bit, as does Black with the vocals. David Lovvering doesn’t do much to change the original drum part, except play it exactly the way it was recorded, which is something he either wasn’t capable of doing or simply didn’t care enough to do for a very long time.

So there’s still something here. In their own way, even playing a 20-year-old song, the Pixies seem restless. It remains to be seen if they’ll ever actually write new material or if they’ll just continue traipsing around the world as purely a nostalgia act, but this has me holding out hope for another day.