Pixies, with special guests Bully and Franz Ferdinand, put on a striking performance at the outdoor Red Hat Amphitheater after distant lightning and a minor thunderstorm caused a brief rain delay.
Shortly after sound check, and before the venue was fully packed, the stage was a flutter of activity as roadies, and even a performer or two, quickly started to cover all the equipment in plastic and tarps; a visual warning to concertgoers of an incoming delay and unfavorable weather.
Shortly thereafter, staff at the Red Hat Amphitheater called for an evacuation of the premises when lightning was spotted in the distance. Fans took shelter in the parking garages or under awnings of nearby buildings while the small storm blew over.
The evacuation was well organized, but I did feel bad for some of the general admission pit pass holders who arrived early only to lose their coveted spots at the front barricade. Thankfully, the pit wasn’t too large and they all had a great view of the Pixies once we returned to the venue.
Attendees were still trying to get settled and make their way to their seats when Bully took the stage. Bully, featuring front-woman Alicia Bognanno, played a 30-minute set that started with “All I Do.” The trio features Bognanno on vocals and guitar, Nick Byrd on bass, and Wesley Mitchell on drums. Bully barely took breaths from one song to the next, trying to squeeze in as many hits as possible. Some of the fan favorites included “Hard to Love,” “Lose You,” and “Feel the Same.” In a flash, they left the stage.
Franz Ferdinand, playing for the third time in Raleigh, did a fantastic job getting the crowd revved up. The amphitheater was filling up nicely and by the end of their set, it was filled with new and current fans of this Scottish band.
They opened with “Jacqueline” and I noticed each member had their names displayed around the set on the equipment. Alex Kapranos, on vocals and guitar, has incredible energy on stage and connects well with the crowd. He’s constantly catching air as he jumps up during his performance.
At one point, Julian Corrie, who handles keyboards and lead guitar, played with his hand behind his back, eliciting screams and cheers from the spectators. Audrey Tait rocked the drums and did a little solo right before the last song, “This Fire.” Dino Bardot has perfect precision on the rhythm guitar which was shown nicely in “Curious” and “No You Girls.”
Their one-hour set included several favorites – “Walk Away,” “The Fallen,” “Ulysses,” “Michael,” and their mega hit, “Take Me Out” – and it went way too fast, but the crowd was ready for the legendary band and headliner of the evening, Pixies.
The venue darkened and beams of white lights barely illuminated the stage while background music started playing. Fans stood up, started screaming and clapping, while the band took the stage and dove into “Gouge Away.”
Pixies are known for changing their setlist up each show, the crowd had to wait patiently to see if their favorite song would be played; those that couldn’t shouted out requests.
Man, do Pixies play a set! Tonight’s concert featured 30 songs in their hour and a half on stage which left minimal time for Black Francis (lead vocals and rhythm guitar) to address the crowd and engage in lighthearted banter with everyone.
Paz Lenchantin had her signature red flower on her bass guitar and a huge smile on her face. Joey Santiago on lead guitar thrilled the crowd when he dragged his hat across the guitar, giving it more discord. David Lovering frequently stood out as he set the rhythm, and the sound of his drums cracked through the night air.
After “Wave of Mutilation” and “Caribou,” Lenchantin started waving to everyone in the audience and there was a false start to “Hey,” which was quickly aborted as they decided to play “All the Saints” first. Of course, they played their mega hit, “Here Comes Your Man,” and saved “Where Is My Mind” as one of the closing pieces.
They played “Doggerel,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” “Isla de Encanta,” and “Nimrod’s Son.” They closed the set with “Winterlong,” a Neil Young cover, and left their fans shouting for more, but thankful they got to experience such an iconic band that has inspired so many other great artists to date.
Pixies are touring in support of their 2022 album, “Doggerel,” and have a full calendar of shows ahead. They will be touring with Modest Mouse and Cat Power starting in August, and will wrap up the US portion of their tour on September 17th at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. We hope to see you there!