PORTLAND — It was a highly anticipated night for loyal fans of the Pixies, who performed before a sold-out crowd at the State Theatre Tuesday.

The Pixies formed in 1986, released five studio albums and then, sadly, broke up in 1993. In 2004, the group reunited and played wildly successful shows around the globe. When 2009 rolled around, they saw a huge opportunity and wisely took it. It marked the 20th anniversary of their 1989 album (considered by many to be their best) “Doolittle.” The “Doolittle” anniversary tour took flight, and the party continues into this year.

Just before 9 p.m., after a terrific opening set from Surfer Blood, Black Francis (aka Charles Thompson), Joey Santiago, Kim Deal and David Lovering took the stage, and just like that, a dream came true for every person in the room: the Pixies were playing in Maine. A film was projected on a high-tech screen, and sepia-toned clips from old French art films flashed before us as five giant white orb lights hovered above.

Shrouded in low lighting for the first four songs, the Pixies started off with some “Doolittle” B sides such as “Dancing the Manta Ray” and “Weird at my School” before getting into the meat and potatoes of the show.  They came to play “Doolittle,” and they did just that in brilliant glory and in exact order for all 15 songs.

“Debaser” was first, and then with “Tame” we heard the first full-on screech from Francis. It was sing-along time for “Wave of Mutilation,” and it occurred to me how fresh everything sounded and how amazing it was that all these years had passed since the Pixies heyday.

The sound was awesome, not always the case at the State Theatre, and all present seemed to be having one heck of a time. “Doolittle” hits “Here Comes Your Man” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven” were well appreciated, but some of the others were even better. Drummer Lovering sang lead on “La La Love You,” and it was one of the best songs of the night as dancing hearts splashed across the screen and fans bounced along to the very catchy tune.

“Hey” was another standout, and the clever projection of the lyrics behind Francis added to the splendor. Lead guitarist Santiago was in stellar form. Deal also brought her A game. We got to hear her vocals best in “Silver” during the “Doolittle” songs, and there was more Deal to come during the encores.

Surprising enough, the band replayed “Wave of Mutilation” as the first encore, though this time around it was a slow and trippy version, and another sing-along ensued.

In another surprise move, fog machines were cranked up, and it was pea-soup thick during “Into the White,” on which Deal sang lead.

The night ended on two perfect notes from the 1988 album, “Surfer Rosa.” There’s not a Pixies fan that I know who doesn’t hold a special place for “Where is My Mind” and “Gigantic.” Thanks, Pixies for a spectacular performance that will be talked about for years to come.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:
[email protected]