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Show Review: Weezer and Pixies close wild summer tour in Phoenix

Weezer rolled in with the monsoon to bless the rains down in Phoenix on Sunday. Joined by co-headliners Pixies, the band put on a show that was nothing short of the best-attended circus I’ve ever seen.

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Pixies took the stage to The Beatles’ “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” and had the massive crowd jazzed from the first note of “Gouge Away.” Though they’ve been around since the late 1980’s, Pixies had fans of all ages dancing the aisles.

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Their expansive 21-song set included a Neil Young cover and all the band’s hits. New bassist Paz Lechantin shared some of the vocal duties with singer Black Francis, while guitarist Joey Santiago’s guitar never stopped. At one lighthearted moment, Santiago shocked the audience by threatening to smash his guitar before jumping back in and playing it with his hat.

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The singing got louder through the transition from the beautifully mellow “Here Comes Your Man” to “Where Is My Mind?” Pixies entranced the audience with a stunning display of lights, timed to the nuances of their songs. They closed their last set of the tour with “Hey” and “Debaser,” prompting the crowd to call for more music long after the band had taken their bows.

I’m not sure there’s been a more perfect recent touring combination than this one and, when Weezer ambled out to the Happy Days intro, I was sure of it. Opening with the now-classic “Buddy Holly,” Rivers Cuomo and co. took us all right back to the 90s.

Weezer is at the point in their touring career where the production is telling just as much of a story as the setlist. The stage opened to a high school backdrop with Cuomo in full nerd mode, cardigan and glasses included. From “Beverly Hills” to “Pork and Beans” to “My Name is Jonas,” the night was hit after hit.

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“Let’s take it back to the garage- 1994!” Cuomo shouted to signal the backdrop transition from high school to wannabe punk rock garage. Decked out in an ironic polo and flanked by AC/DC and KISS posters, the second portion of the set took fans through “El Scorcho” and (very subtly) “In the Garage.” They kept that vibe for the first stellar cover of the night, The Turtles’ “Happy Together” (with an uncanny Billie Joe Armstrong imitation for “Longview” at the bridge).

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Fans strapped in for part two as Cuomo threw on a sailor’s coat and captain’s hat, hopped on his pink scooter and rode to the soundboard for an acoustic interlude of “Island in the Sun” and A-ha’s “Take On Me.” Playfully demanding his rockstar spotlight, the audience obliged, lighting up the pavilion with their cell phones.

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As Cuomo wheeled back towards the stage, the final transformation took place and the band ended the evening against a backdrop fit for the rockstars they are. The decoration fell away to reveal huge lights and plenty of pyrotechnics for the dance party to “(If You’re Wondering if I Want You To) I Want You To.”

Undoubtedly the night was building to one epic conclusion- Weezer’s chart-topping cover of Toto’s “Africa.” The band’s incredible rendition showcased the three-part harmony of Cuomo, guitarist Brian Bell and bassist Scott Shriner. It takes a special kind of vocalist to sing “Africa” and Weezer nailed it both in recording and live.

The band didn’t keep everyone waiting long, returning to play “Surf Wax America” and “Say It Ain’t So” before taking their final bows. This was the final stop for the co-headliners and both Pixies and Weezer brought it to a fully satisfying close.  

 

Story and photos by Olivia Khiel

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