Author: Bruce Jenkins  Date Posted:13 May 2022 


On their last tour before breaking up, the Pixies opened for U2 on the  Zoo TV tour. It was 1993, and not long after this unlikely band combination Pixies songwriter Charles Thompson (alias Black Francis, aka Frank Black) sent a fax to the other three members of the band informing them that Pixies were no more. As breakups go, this was not a gentle one. Thompson and bassist Kim Deal did not talk for over a decade.

So when, in early 2004, it was announced that Pixies were reforming and playing the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (aka Coachella), there was considerable surprise mingled with delight. With characteristic bluntness, Charles Thompson confirmed that the motivation was financial. And what’s more, it worked. “We all made lots of money," said Thompson. "I know everyone’s made a lot of money because I’m privy to how much the checks are for. Everyone did good. For a little indie rock band, we did really good.”*

So the filthy lucre was gratifying, but how was the performance?

We’ll come to that in a moment, but first it is important to note that although the Pixies had disbanded some ten years earlier, their fame had not only persisted, but grown. Kurt Cobain cited them as an inspiration for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" while a song in popular movie Fight Club (1999) helped keep them bubbling along in the indi rock consciousness. It’s also worth remembering that Pixies had always been more popular in Europe than in their native USA.

The reunion tour kicked off in Canada, to great acclaim and even greater scrambling for tickets. By the time they preceded Radiohead on the Coachella main stage they had well and truly warmed up, knew that the bucks were rolling in, and were ready to ignite. And burn they did, powering through a one hour set that included twenty-one songs from their much-loved catalogue. At the time, Rolling Stone observed that it was "the Saturday set fans spent most of Sunday talking about"..**

Now those who weren’t in the Colorado Desert on 1st May 2004 can relive the gig via this three-sided coloured vinyl re-issue (RSD 2022). With a setlist dominated by Doolittle (8 songs) and Surfer Rosa (6 songs), fans of the band will not be disappointed. (There are also three songs from Come On Pilgrim). The energy fizzes, the intent to excite is palpable. These are indeed pixies on speed and the recording has all the rough live atmosphere anyone could want. There’s even a nice etched side four to meditate on as you witness one of the top bands of the 1990s re-discover their collective mojo, live in your living room.



Josh Frank and Caryn Ganz [2005] Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies. Virgin Books UK.*

Rolling Stone Magazine [2013] Flashback: The Pixies Reunite at Coachella in 2004. (Accessed 8 May 2022)**


© Bruce Jenkins 2022

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