There is just no good way to write a review for the Pixies without first lamenting the loss of Kim Deal and David Lovering's sturdy and sure rhythm unit forged from years of familiarity and hard work. That said, I will tell you that their Friday night concert at New York's Bowery Ballroom was fantastic.
Gone was the attitude of smug indifference that permeated the air when I caught their show in Asbury Park on the Doolittle Lost Cities tour back in 2011, and in its place, there was new energy and a mutual feeding frenzy between audience and band. New bassist Kim Shattuck (formerly of the Muffs and The Pandoras) did a fine job; I daresay from the back of the venue and without your glasses on, you might not have noticed the lack of the beloved Deal. Will Frank Black ever pour his heart out between songs and chat lovingly with audience members? Probably not. But they plowed through plenty of Pixies favorites with gusto and even managed to deliver the newly-released songs to the crowd, making them sound as solid and well-worn as the favorites we grew up on. Joey Santiago, who never fails to impress me, even with his lack of stage interaction, managed to crack at least two knowing smirks during the show. The evening's set list was wildly varied with "Velouria," "Allison," "Nimrod's Son," and "Vamos" firing up the floor of the Bowery Ballroom into a jumping hothouse and whipping its sweaty patrons (myself included) into delighted frenzy.
There is something to be said for what I assume was the strange tension-fueled and thinly-veiled aggression that sometimes spilled over into their studio albums and live shows, making us love the chaotic uncertainty of their very existence (would they even be a band in the morning?). But seeing them together onstage offered proof that their face-punching delivery and skills haven't waned much with the passage of time and we wouldn't want it any other way.
If you've never seen The Pixies live, please do so as soon as possible.