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Pixies perform 'Doolittle' at Upper Darby's Tower Theater


One of the security guards at the Tower Theater gave Aileen O’Bannon, our intrepid The Pixies perform at The Tower Theater. Photo by Aileen Bannonphotographer, some pre-show scoop about the Pixies concert. The first four songs were going to be in total darkness. Being a practical person, I wondered how the band would play their instruments. This air of mystery seems to suit the band that inspired other visionaries such as Nirvana and Radiohead.

Before the band came out, the short film, "Un Chien Andalou" which was created by Louis Bunuel and Salvador Dali in 1929, displayed on the video panel that made up the back wall of the stage. It’s a gruesome, violent, surrealist piece. The film inspired the lyrics for the song, “Debaser”.


The band came on – backlit – so we saw their silhouettes. Massive amplifiers sitting on stage acted as the fifth band member – to drive the sound throughout the theater. The audience on the orchestra level stayed on their feet through the entire set.

Bassist Kim Deal would shout out the song titles – before they began, but I honestly had trouble figuring out what she was saying. I’ve never seen them play before – but I was intrigued by the dichotomy of their physical stillness to the sound they created. They hardly moved as they played their instruments – with the exception of drummer David Lovering. Singer Black Francis’ voice carried a sense of urgency to the songs.

When the lights came on, a large inflatable structure changed colors and moved up and down as the set continued. The band made good use of the video background – that also morphed throughout the set, to compliment the songs. The screen featured animated hearts dancing during the song, “La La Love You,”  and during their brief intermission showed a video of the band taking a bow backstage in front of a curtain. Later in the set, the lyrics from the song “Hey” moved across the screen. It’s interesting to note that the Pixies and Taylor Swift  made similar use of the multimedia to complement their songwriting. Towards the end of the set, smoke rolled across from the back of the stage to the front seats.

The set list included the tracks from Dolittle  with fan favorites, "Monkey Gone to Heaven," and "Here Comes Your Man" as well as some B sides. As they took their bows at the intermission – they graciously smiled and waved to the audience, and Deal thanked everyone for coming. The fans were delighted to have the Pixies back in Philadelphia sharing their musical legacy!


 Set List

  1. Dancing the Manta Ray 
  2. Bailey's Walk
  3. Weird at My School 
  4. Manta Ray 
  5. Debaser
  6. Tame
  7. Wave Of Mutilation 
  8. I Bleed
  9. Here Comes Your Man 
  10. Dead
  11. Monkey Gone To Heaven 
  12. Mr. Grieves 
  13. Crackity Jones 
  14. La La Love You
  15. No. 13 Baby 
  16. Ther Goe's My Gun 
  17. Hey 
  18. Silver 
  19. Gouge Away


  1. Wave of Mutilation
  2. Into the White 

Encore 2:

  1. Nimrod's Son 
  2. Isla de Encanta 
  3. Vamos
  4. Where Is My Mind?

Contact Diane Cooney at dcooney@philly2philly.com