"For the first time in my life, I just don't care," Frank Black sang Friday night (9/3), opening his solo acoustic show at Joe's Pub (his first of three sold out Labor Day Weekend shows at the intimate venue). While the song containing these lyrics ("Horrible Day") was released in 2003, it seems that Black has taken them and run. From his wearing sunglasses through the entire performance in the dimly lit Joe's Pub, to a mocking reference to his guitar skills ("And on guitar, we have Jack Shit,") Frank Black, a.k.a. Black Francis, a.k.a. the frontman of influential 90's alt-rock band the Pixies, seems numb to the hoopla. Black's billing at the club is promoted as a "solo acoustic show," however it should be noted that the stage setup contained a Baldwin grand piano, a pump organ, a bass guitar, drum set, and yes, featured Black on electric guitar.
Starting the show with some warm-ups and donning a variation of an outfit some might refer to as the "Canadian tuxedo" (loose fitting blue jean button up shirt, untucked, and blue jean pants), Black immediately mezmerizes as soon as he opens his mouth to sing. Black's powerful timbre consistently leads the crescendo, with electric instruments following behind, sometimes singing melodically, sometimes screeching madly.
Despite promoting his latest solo release Non Stop Erotik, Black pulls some of his Pixies repertoire off the shelf, performing "Nimrod's Son," Cactus," and "Planet of Sound." His solo material is more solemn and less experimental than his work with the Pixies, often using the catharsis of the pump organ as a backdrop for his grainy vocals. His solo material (including that billed as Frank Black and the Catholics) seems as if age and experience has cast a new light over his work, with introspection and flashes of wisdom. "If your heart is sad," Black laments, "this is your new home." At times, Black reverts back to his signature Pixies vocal style, proving that he's no "Burnt Out Rock And Roll" star, a song he included in the set, along with "Manitoba," Ten Percenter," "Los Angeles," and "I Heard Ramona Sing." Black closed the show with a brief and somber encore, reminding the audience to "Sing for joy/Sing for laughs/ If nothing else/Sing for joy."
More pictures from Friday's show, below...