Of course, when the band took the stripped-down stage, offering little more than a brief wave to the crowd before launching into "Debaser," they didn't exactly look like the Pixies. Black Francis--or Frank Black or Charles Thompson--looks like he ate the younger version of himself. And for some reason, Jimmy Buffett was playing the part of drummer David Lovering. OK, fine, it actually was Lovering, but you can't blame me for being confused by his white jeans, baseball cap and pukka-shell necklace ensemble.
But all that really matters is that the band sounded as though its swan song, Trompe le Monde, was released in 2001, not 1991. Even though bassist Kim Deal has smoked more cigarettes in the past two decades than lab animals on Tobacco Road, her backup vocals and lead turn on "Gigantic" retained their breathy, baby-girl beauty. Guitarist Joey Santiago--the Billy Zoom to Black and Deal's alterna-rock John Doe and Exene Cervenka--proved that his time in the lounge act the Martinis hasn't cramped his style, especially on his pedal-pushing solo on "Vamos." Black, in his Bill Cosby shades, has found the tortured howl that is sorely missing from most of his solo records.
There were a few songs that didn't make the set list ("Alec Eiffel" and "Broken Face," to name two) and one that maybe shouldn't have (it's strange how unlike a Pixies song "Here Comes Your Man" sounds now), but that's just quibbling. It was--and here's where the strings come in--a dream come true.