The Pixies and Weezer brought their co-headlining tour to Las Vegas on April 12, 2019. Playing at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, it was definitely my most anticipated show for the year.
Up first for the evening was the Pixies. This legendary band influenced multiple bands including Blur, Nirvana, and their tourmates, Weezer.
Black Francis, David Lovering, Joey Santiago, and Paz Lenchantin hit the backlit stage and kicked the night off with “Cactus” off of their 1988 album Surfer Rosa. I was really curious to see what all would be played, as the band had been changing up the setlist nightly. When you have 30+ years of material though, you’ve got a decent amount of songs to choose from.
The crowd went wild as the band went into “Nimrod’s Son” off of 1987’s Come On Pilgrim, gathering to their feet and shouting along with Francis and the rest of the band.
Personally, I went nuts for the fifth song of the evening, “Here Comes Your Man” off of 1989’s Doolittle. I don’t know why, but the song just always cheers me up. Maybe because it wasn’t ever really set to be released.
Another high point of the Pixies’ set for me was the back to back play of “Monkey Gone to Heaven” and “Wave of Mutilation” (both also off of Doolittle). I remember being in high school and not really too familiar with the Pixies until Rock Band, and while I am a little embarrassed by that, that game introduced a lot of people my age to the band. For me, they became more than just the “Wave of Mutilation” band, but the song still has a bit of a special spot in my heart.
A couple more songs went by before the band broke into their Jesus and Mary Chain cover of “Head On”, which was a treat for everyone. Having seen Jesus and Mary Chain last year on their tour with Nine Inch Nails, it was kind of cool to hear both versions I was familiar with.
The Pixies ended the evening with “Gigantic”, which Lenchantin completely owns vocals on. It was a great ending to their 24 song set, and got the crowd pumped up for Weezer to hit the stage next.
The Arms of Mrs. Mark of Cain
All the Saints
Here Comes Your Man
Bird of Prey
The Holiday Song
Motorway to Roswell
This Is My Fate
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Wave of Mutilation
Isla de Encanta
Head On (Jesus & Mary Chain Cover)
Where Is My Mind?
After listening to 20 minutes of the most random arrangement of 80s hair metal bands during tear down and set up, it was time for Weezer to hit the stage.
I hadn’t seen Weezer in 15 years, and even at that, I’d only ever seen them perform “Hash Pipe” since I got to their 2004 free concert with Red Hot Chili Peppers late. No joke. We got out of the car, and I was relieved that they were still playing. Right when we got into the stadium and could see the stage, they were finishing the chords of the song and thanking Vegas for coming out.
A giant curtain hung in front of the stage as the band, dressed up for the part, performed a barbershop quartet style version of their 2005 hit “Beverly Hills”. Never shy about doing things a little differently, this was the perfect opening to Weezer’s hit after hit (and not just their own) set.
Next up was 1994’s hit single off of their self titled (also known as The Blue Album), “Buddy Holly”, complete with the Happy Days intro! Immediately after the iconic 8 note riff prior to the final chorus, CO2 cannons shot streamers over the crowd, and I couldn’t help but think what a great photograph it would have been.
I’m going to be really honest and crass here for a second. I purposely have avoided Weezer’s cover of the 1982 hit “Africa” by Toto. I loved the song when I was a kid, and not to sound like a hipster here, but I am genuinely curious when everyone began loving this song. It’s not a bad thing at all, but I was skeptical. To me, some songs just shouldn’t be touched.
I’m glad I avoided it. Hearing it live for the first time was the absolute best way to hear it, and you know what? Rivers Cuomo, Brian Bell, and Scott Shriner harmonized beautifully on this, and Patrick Wilson’s drums on it gave the song a bit more punch than the original version. If you’re going to cover a song, make it your own, and Weezer did that perfectly while keeping it true enough to the Toto version.
Weezer is not shy about covers at all, as about a quarter of their set was comprised of them. Putting their spin on Tears for Fears, Black Sabbath, A-Ha, Jane’s Addiction, TLC, and the as mentioned above Toto, the band made me feel a bit better about my personal album collection, which is a bit all over the place. It’s kind of nice hearing a band do some genres outside of their own, and for Weezer, it proves that this nerdy alternative band from the 90s has more talent than they’re given credit for.
Ending the evening with “Say It Ain’t So”, Cuomo invited the Las Vegas crowd to sing along, since it would be their last chance to do so for the evening. With each strum on the guitar during the chorus, pyrotechnics went off on the stage. Who would’ve thought Weezer could give KISS a run for their money? It definitely beat my first experience seeing Weezer live for sure.
Both bands played amazing sets that lasted for over 20 songs each, and the Las Vegas audience enjoyed every second of it. Whether the bands come back together for another leg of the tour or on their own tours, they will be welcomed with open arms here in our little neon dust bowl.
Beverly Hills (barbershop quartet version)
My Name Is Jonas
Africa (Toto Cover)
Pork and Beans
Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears Cover)
Undone - The Sweater Song
Can’t Knock the Hustle
Paranoid (Black Sabbath Cover)
The World Has Turned and Left Me Here
Take On Me (A-Ha Cover)
Up the Beach (Jane’s Addiction Cover)
Thank God for Girls
Island in the Sun
No Scrubs (TLC Cover)
Say It Ain’t So
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos ©Stephy Hayward - ZRockR Magazine - All Rights Reserved