Concert Review

Pixies steam through 33 songs without so much as a Hello or Thank You

Silent between songs but storming during them, the alternative American band finally makes its long-delayed debut in Israel

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Black Francis of the Pixies, who steamed through a 32-song set to his Tel Aviv audience (photo credit: Orit Pnini)
Black Francis of the Pixies, who steamed through a 32-song set to his Tel Aviv audience (photo credit: Orit Pnini)

There’s always a certain kind of satisfaction when a beloved band finally makes it to Israel. On Tuesday night, it was celebration time for what you might call the “mainstream alternative” audience, as The Pixies finally took to the stage at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium.

Headlining the first night of a two-night Rockn’Roller Festival, the presence of The Pixies — who will be followed by Soundgarden on Wednesday night — was another success for promoter Shuki Weiss, who appears to be having the summer of his career.

The band was scheduled to perform four years ago, in June 2010, but canceled its debut performance following the Mavi Marmara incident, in which Israeli commandos killed nine Turks in a vicious struggle aboard a ship that attempted to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Last December, they confirmed their June 2014 performance. “We [always] wanted to come here,” said guitarist Joey Santiago when they flew into Ben-Gurion Airport, asserting that it was security concerns that prompted the cancelation last time.

“The Pixies kept their promise that they’d come and now they’re here,” said Weiss before the band came on stage. “Give them an Israeli welcome.”

The mainstream alternative crowd at Tel Aviv's Bloomfield Stadium (photo credit: Orit Pnini)
The mainstream alternative crowd at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium (photo credit: Orit Pnini)

That they did. A mixture of middle-aged hipsters and twenty-and thirty-somethings in t-shirts and Converse sneakers, the crowd filled a good portion of the black-tarped soccer field, repeatedly raising hands, beers and smartphones in appreciation of the guitar-driven assault.

It was a knowledgeable audience, familiar with the barked verses and jarring tunes of the band, swiveling hips and mouthing the words along with lead singer, Black Francis, who was dressed in his usual black linen button-down.

Francis, 49 and looking as middle-aged as some of his audience, waved and bowed at the end, but made no remarks to the crowd for the entire course of the show — as in, nothing; not even a hello or a thank you (much less a Jagger-esque Atem Kahal Meturaf or Kanita Naalayim BaShuk!), a habit he’s clearly carrying around to each performance on this current tour. Still, he was sharp and focused, ripping through a tightly-bound set of 33 songs — they’re mostly short, so the show lasted well under two hours — with likable drummer David Lovering, lead guitarist Santiago and bassist Paz Lenchantin, a recent replacement for Kim Shattuck, who was summarily ousted in December.

The Pixies on stage at Tel Aviv's Bloomfield Stadium (photo credit: Orit Pnini)
The Pixies on stage at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium (photo credit: Orit Pnini)

The band included only three songs from their recently released album, “Indie Cindy,” their first since 1991: “What Goes Boom,” “Greens and Blues” and “Magdalena 318.” The catchy “Here Comes My Man” was a little weak, but it was followed by the night’s most melodic number, “La La Love You.” Later, they played a storming “Debaser” and obliged with two encores, ending with crowd-pleaser “Where Is My Mind.”

For their first time in Tel Aviv, there was something close and intimate about the show, an instance of music being played to an appreciative crowd, and the Pixies played like they knew it.

Set List:

  • Bone
  • Machine
  • U-Mass
  • Wave of Mutilation
  • Something Against You
  • Hey
  • Levitate Me
  • Crackity Jones
  • Mr. Grieves
  • Broken Face
  • Cactus
  • Velouria
  • Magdalena 318
  • Caribou
  • I’ve Been Tired
  • River Euphrates
  • What Goes Boom
  • Allison
  • Isla de Encanta
  • Ed Is Dead
  • Indie Cindy
  • Nimrod’s Son
  • Here Comes Your Man
  • La La Love You
  • Greens and Blues
  • The Holiday Song
  • No. 13 Baby
  • The Sad Punk
  • Monkey Gone to Heaven
  • Gouge Away
  • Debaser
  • Vamos
  • Where Is My Mind?

Seattle band Soundgarden will headline the Rockn’Roller festival on Wednesday night. This visit is lead singer Chris Cornell’s third time performing in Israel.

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