During the Pixies' original reign in the late 1980s and early 1990s, they were notorious for putting on shows that were - how shall we say - less than spectacular.
There were constant complaints of short sets, out-of-tune instruments, songs that trailed off lazily and general bad sound that simply didn't live up to the unique artistry that Pixies songs embodied.
Well, if old age hasn't done great things for their waist lines (at least not for Frank Black's or Kim Deal's), it has taught them a thing or two about stage presence and delivery.
Of course, days and days of rehearsing don't hurt.
At any rate, the foursome unleashed a torrent of impeccable renditions of most of the band's most beloved tunes during the Doolittle stop at The Fillmore in Denver on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
It was the second of two shows in Denver (Monday's show was sold out and Tuesday's was probably close to capacity). The band ambled on stage, grinning shyly and waving before kicking into four B-sides, preceded by Deal awkwardly peeping into the mic, "OK ... B-sides." Then, with an extended intro of "Debaser," they played the entirety of the 1989 Doolittle record from start to finish, all to a flashy backdrop of creepy faceless dolls, black and white desert landscapes (perfect for the rumbling, piercing strains of "Silver") and images of the band members grinning and giggling.
After they stepped away for the first encore, the backdrop lit up with a highly amusing image of the four presumably standing backstage in front of a closed curtain (probably in a Los Angeles studio in August), bowing and graciously accepting applause before walking off screen and then - magically - back on stage.
"More B-sides," Deal announced, "just two more" and to the sheer delight of what turned out to be an extremely civilized crowd (guess that's what happens when the median age is 37), the band thundered into "Into the White" and then the slower, rawer version of "Wave of Mutilation."
Then, after the band said its humble goodbyes and sauntered off stage again and the crowd shrieked and clamored for what felt like way too long, it looked grim when all the venue lights came on, but the Pixies were back again, and this time to truly seal their place in all of our hearts forever.
The final leg of the show consisted of glorious, perfect renditions of "Bone Machine," "Gigantic" and "Vamos," Joey Santiago skillfully putting in the noisy riffs with the help of one of David Lovering's drumsticks.
Though there was an unmistakable taste of shameless marketing in the air throughout - people handing out fliers for the Pixies live Doolittle Tour CDs, which, admittedly, are kind of a cool idea ($14 for a live download of each show on the tour) and the backdrop advertising the Pixies anvil-sized Minotaur box set - nobody could say the show wasn't great.
Heavier and more wrinkled than they used to be (and let's face it, they were never the best looking rock stars in the first place), the Pixies can still muster up their magic dust.